My Response To The CES Letter

CES Letter - My ResponseI should start by explaining up front that until about a year and a half ago (around February-ish 2022), I was your typical active, faithful LDS man, born and raised. I am still active and faithful, but my beliefs have changed slightly.

After deeply diving into all the polygamy evidence surrounding Joseph Smith, I have now changed my mind about which restoration leader started polygamy. I used to believe the standard narrative that Joseph secretly started it under the command of God and that Brigham Young was Joseph’s most faithful disciple.

But the quality of the evidence is so much stronger in support of the idea that Joseph Smith told the truth during his lifetime and that Joseph and Hyrum fought polygamy within the church until their deaths.

To be clear, there is more (quantity) evidence that Joseph started polygamy, but it is all second and third-hand recollections by people decades later who were themselves then practicing polygamy. All of the firsthand, contemporary, and most substantial evidence supports the idea that Joseph fought polygamy and that Brigham and some of the 12 started it. Here are two videos that are good synopsis of what I am talking about; here and here.

I bring this up only to say that I am not coming from the standard viewpoint that most would be who write a response to the CES letter. It is just that the more I researched the claims made in the CES Letter, the more I felt drawn to write my own response.

When I started reading the CES letter for the first time, I assumed Jeremy’s story about having sincere questions to be true. But I am sorry to say looking up Jeremy’s own sources convinced me otherwise. But you can judge that for yourself as we go through it. It does not take long once you start reading Runnell’s sources to realize that he is not sincere, nor is he just missing something; he makes stuff up. But at least he cites his sources. You can tell an anti-mormon that doesn’t ever research sources (John Dehlin), because they give Jeremy Runnels a platform. It is incredible that anyone still listens to Runnels or reads his CES letter; he fabricates out of whole cloth brazenly, repeatedly.

Someone sincerely searching for truth looks at the facts honestly and does not twist them to be deceptive. On the other hand, Jeremy is clearly intentional in his distortion and fabrication of facts. As you will see below as we go through his letter, and as I said earlier, it is beyond poor research. He lies repeatedly. There is no other way to describe it.

This response will take multiple pages. So, to simplify it, I will link to both the next page and the previous page at the bottom of each page in this response.

Joseph Smith and Book of Mormon Critics

Twenty years ago or so, I was first exposed to the most difficult accusations against Joseph Smith that I had ever seen up to that point. They were so difficult because I had never heard them before, and I did not know where to go to get the complete answers. There were no readily available “responses” by Book of Mormon believing sources I could find or go to back then.

Since I did not know any of the background information, the arguments made in these accusations seemed logical. And so, at one point, I really questioned if the accusations I was reading were true.

Fortunately for me, I followed Apostle Ballard’s advice. He had said if you ever read critics of Joseph or The Book of Mormon, to be sure, spend “equal time” reading both sides, emphasizing reading the Book of Mormon. So I tried to read from the Book Of Mormon, about the same amount of time I spent reading the accusations against Joseph.

Because of my willingness to look at both sides with an open mind and give equal time to the reading from the Book of Mormon, I was blessed with the most powerful spiritual witness from the Holy Ghost I have ever experienced in my life testifying to me that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. I heard in my mind the words, “Joseph was who he claimed to be.” It was so powerful and profound I could not deny that it was real.

I did not find the actual answers to these accusations until years later. But it was okay with me, and I was patient because of the powerful witness I had received. When I finally found the actual facts, what had previously concerned me was in every case, just as I have found now in the CES Letter. Each was either a distortion of the truth, blatant misrepresentation, or complete fabrication.

I would like to make a promise to anyone reading this response. I promise that if you research and get to the facts, the integrity of the prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon will always be vindicated.

And if you spend an equal amount of time reading the Book of Mormon that you spend reading things like the CES Letter (no matter how many times you have read the Book Of Mormon before), the Holy Ghost will witness to you the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the prophet Joseph Smith. At the same time, you continue to search for your answers.

It is impossible to read The Book Of Mormon with an open mind and not be amazed at its complexity, goodness, and spirit. It is not the kind of book a fraud would write. It is too pure and good. It teaches you to be Christlike. And frauds don’t write books they make no money from or have to give their life for. Joseph Smith did not make any money from the church he restored. And he endured much misery and gave his life in defense of it. You don’t do that if you are a fraud.

The CES Letter Is Jeremy’s Career

Jeremy T RunnellsMany of Jeremy T. Runnels’ critics have written estimates of what he makes monthly from donations on his CES Letter website. Most estimate that Jeremy makes over $10,000 US dollars per month.

In responding to these claims, Jeremy has never denied these numbers. In fact, on his website, his response there does not deny these numbers. Instead, he claims that with the countless hours he spends each week, it works out to be “well below minimum wage.” $10,000 per month works out to at least $2,300 per week. Even if he spends 60 hours per week on this (which he doesn’t), that is $38 per hour, well above minimum wage.

My only point here is that from everything I have found online about Jeremy, both in the accusations made by his critics and in his responses, it seems that this is his only source of income. I will leave you with your own opinion of whether or not you think that would create any kind of an alternative motive or bias in him regarding this topic.


CES Letter Introduction

As we go through the rest of the article, I will go through each of Jeremy Runnells’ statements in his CES Letter, and then I will respond to each one. So that you can tell his statements from my responses, I will put his statements in green and my responses in normal black text. Also, whenever I quote him in my responses, I will also put Jeremy’s words in green. Hopefully, that makes sense.

Let’s start with Jeremy’s CES Letter “Introduction” page.

“Thank you for responding to my grandfather’s request to answer my concerns and questions and for offering your time with me. I appreciate it.

I’m interested in your thoughts and answers as I have been unable to find official answers from the Church for most of these issues. It is my hope that you’re going to have better answers than many of those given by unofficial apologists such as FairMormon and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute (formerly FARMS).

I’m just going to be straightforward in sharing my concerns. Obviously, I’m a disaffected member who lost his testimony so it’s no secret which side I’m on at the moment. All this information is a result of over a year of intense research and an absolute rabid obsession with Joseph Smith and Church history. With this said, I’d be pretty arrogant and ignorant to say that I have all the information and that you don’t have answers. Like you, I put my pants on one leg at a time and I see through a glass darkly. You may have new information and/or a new perspective that I may not have heard or considered before. This is why I’m genuinely interested in what your answers and thoughts are to these issues.”

Jeremy says that his questions are genuine and sincere. My only question is, if his questions about the church are sincere, why call people derogatory names? Most often, when a skeptic uses the word “apologist,” they do so pejoratively. The connotation is that the person they call an apologist is trying to defend the indefensible.

He did say, “I’m a disaffected member who lost his testimony so it’s no secret which side I’m on at the moment“. However, if you re-read his whole quote, his overall tone represents that he is sincere and genuine (In other words, open to changing his mind). But his use of the word “apologist,” to me, contradicts openness.

I’ve decided to put down in writing just about all the major concerns that I have. I went through my notes from my past year of research and compiled them together. It doesn’t make sense for me to just lay down 5 concerns while also having 20 other concerns that legitimately challenge the truth claims of the LDS Church.

What I get from this paragraph is that Jeremy knows he will ask an extreme amount of “questions,” so he is preparing the reader ahead of time. He asks a whole lot more than 20! But there is nothing wrong with a lot of questions. So okay, let’s go!

A quick description of my background might help you understand where I’m coming from. I was a very active and fully believing member my entire life up until around the summer of 2012. My grandpa already outlined my life events to you in his email so I think you get the idea that I accepted and embraced Mormonism.

I believe you grew up a sincere and devout member of the church.

In February of 2012, I was reading the news online when I came across the following news article: Mormonism Besieged by the Modern Age.

In the article was information about a Q&A meeting at Utah State University that LDS Church Historian and General Authority, Elder Marlin K. Jensen, gave in late 2011. He was asked his thoughts regarding the effects of Google on membership and people who are “leaving in droves” over Church history.

Elder Marlin K. Jensen’s response: “Maybe since Kirtland, we’ve never had a period of – I’ll call it apostasy, like we’re having now; largely over these issues…”

This truly shocked me. I didn’t understand what was going on or why people would leave “over history.” I started doing research and reading books like LDS historian and scholar Richard Bushman’s Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling and many others to try to better understand what was happening.

There is some contention between some who say that Elder Jenson did not agree that people are leaving in droves, including Elder Jenson himself (he came out with a clarification statement), and some who say he did agree. It seems like a silly topic to contend over to me personally. But regardless, I have read the transcript of the conversation, and frankly, I can see how people could interpret it both ways.

It sure seems that more people I know of are leaving the church than I remember in previous decades. But the church leaders have been prophesying of this happening someday for a long time. So it is no surprise to me.

The following issues are among my main concerns.

Book Of Mormon

Book Of Mormon

The following are two quotes Jeremy starts off his introduction with:

“…the Book of Mormon is the keystone of [our] testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

…everything in the Church – everything – rises or falls on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and, by implication, the Prophet Joseph Smith’s account of how it came forth…It sounds like a ‘sudden death’ proposition to me. Either the Book of Mormon is what the Prophet Joseph said it is or this Church and its founder are false, fraudulent, a deception from the first instance onward.

Great quotes and I totally agree with both of them!

Question 1.

What are 1769 King James Version edition errors doing in the Book of Mormon? A purported ancient text? Errors which are unique to the 1769 edition that Joseph Smith owned?

Question 2.

When King James translators were translating the KJV Bible between 1604 and 1611, they would occasionally put in their own words into the text to make the English more readable. We know exactly what these words are because they’re italicized in the KJV Bible. What are these 17th century italicized words doing in the Book of Mormon? Word for word? What does this say about the Book of Mormon being an ancient record?

Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.

2 NEPHI 19:1
Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, and afterwards did more grievously afflict by the way of the Red Sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations.

The above example, 2 Nephi 19:1, dated in the Book of Mormon to be around 550 BC, quotes nearly verbatim from the 1611 AD translation of Isaiah 9:1 KJV – including the translators’ italicized words. Additionally, the Book of Mormon describes the sea as the Red Sea. The problem with this is that (a) Christ quoted Isaiah in Matt. 4:14-15 and did not mention the Red Sea, (b) “Red” sea is not found in any source manuscripts, and (c) the Red Sea is 250 miles away.

…and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

3 NEPHI 24:10
…and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

In the above example, the KJV translators added 7 italicized words to their English translation, which are not found in the source Hebrew manuscripts. Why does the Book of Mormon, which is supposed to have been completed by Moroni over 1,400 years prior, contain the exact identical seven italicized words of 17th century translators?

In Question 1, the word “errors” is a link. This link used to go to this Wikipedia article, which says that some modern scholars think certain words in the KJV Bible translation should have used different English words. And yet the Book of Mormon used those same wrong words. The main accusation here seems to be a claim that Joseph Smith just copied portions of the Book Of Mormon directly from his Bible rather than getting the wording through divine revelation.

In Jeremy Runnells’s updated version of his CES Letter, he changed what the word “errors” links to. He now has this word link to this page of the website that first quotes‘s response to this question, which they quote as follows: “…the only conclusion that we can reach to explain the presence of Bible passages which match the King James Version is that the Lord revealed them to Joseph in that manner. We do not know the reason for this.

Then next, this page of the website quotes a couple paragraphs of an article by Stan Larson called “The Historicity of the Matthean Sermon on the Mount in 3 Nephi“. This is a very long essay analyzing whether the Book of Mormon is more similar in wording to the later Greek texts or similar to more recently found but more ancient Greek texts. The argument is that if the Book of Mormon were a real translation of a document written in 34 AD, it would read closer to the oldest Greek transcripts archaeologists have found.

The main accusation here is the same: Joseph Smith copied portions of the Book Of Mormon directly from his Bible rather than getting the wording through divine revelation. Even though Stan Larson’s essay accuses Joseph Smith of “plagiarism” with respect to the KJV Bible, he does say that Joseph Smith did not follow the KJV word for word. His exact words are “numerous words deleted, revised, or added to the text.”

Question 2 is really a repeat or an expansion of Question 1, so I will answer them together.

My Answer

Short Answer: Much of the KJV language in the Book of Mormon text was added by LDS church leaders/scholars for later editions of the Book of Mormon rather than by Joseph Smith. The KJV language Joseph Smith’s original translation contained was given to him that way by God. A detailed explanation of this process and why is explained below. 

Long Answer: If Joseph Smith had done a traditional translation like scholars do now, then one would expect two things. First, one would expect Joseph to completely use his own words, similar to today, where every modern translation of the Bible uses different English words to convey mostly the same ideas.

Second, the texts in the Book of Mormon that are also written in the Bible would be translated closer to the most ancient Greek transcripts modern archaeologists have found. We could expect this because Joseph would have been reading a text written in 34 AD and translating it character by character into English. So it follows that since biblical scholars view the more ancient biblical transcript copies as being more accurate, the Book of Mormon, if authentic, should be translated to read closer to them.

The problem with this logic is that this was not how the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph had no understanding of reformed Egyptian or Hebrew. He could not read those languages. And even if he had had that knowledge, he was not sitting there like a normal translator reading the Gold plates character by character, coming up with what he felt were the best English words to fit the meaning of the characters he was reading. That would be a traditional type of translation.

Instead, Joseph Smith, who had very little formal education and did not know any Hebrew or Reformed Egyptian, translated very differently. Joseph would place a stone into a hat and then put his face in the hat (to block out the light) and read the words shown to him on the stone. He would put the spectacles he got with the Book of Mormon, a stone we now call his seer stone, into the hat. Both would work. But most of the time, he used the seer stone.

From modern scholars analyzing the patterns on the written transcript of Joseph Smith’s scribes, we believe Joseph would see a phrase or two at a time. He would read it to his scribe, and as soon as it was written down, it would disappear, and he would see the next phrase. On the original transcript, the way the ink flows is what the evidence shows.

The first-hand accounts from his scribes are in perfect harmony with the ink patterns on the original transcripts. These scribes claimed that Joseph would read the words a phrase at a time of the stone, and as soon as each was written down, he would read the next.

This is also consistent with Emma’s (Joseph’s wife) statement that when resuming the translation after a break, Joseph never asked his scribe to read the last that he wrote but would start right at the next word where he had left off before the break without ever missing a beat.

Several first-hand accounts also specify that Joseph never had any Bible or anything else while translating.

Since, as Stan Larson stated above, “there are numerous words deleted, revised, or added to the text,” if Joseph had been merely reading some passages from his KJV Bible, the pattern in the ink on the transcripts would have shown stopping at the changed words and possibly crossing words out, etc. Fountain pens dipped in an inkwell show different ink patterns when you slow or pause in writing. However, the extensive research done (as shown in the videos below) on the original transcripts does not show any evidence.

Informational Pause:

Just an information break here before I finish my answer to this question. Many questions in the CES Letter concern the Book of Mormon and its translation process. The below 3 videos below describes a simplified explanation of a detailed scientific analysis of the Book of Mormon translation and publication process based on the transcripts used.

These videos are part of a 3 part lecture series held in March of 2013 describing in detail this critical analysis process done by Royal Skousen over a 25-year period. This series goes into great detail as to how the translation process happened based on the evidence within the transcripts. Please watch these videos because they are extremely relevant and provide invaluable insight into Jeremy’s questions.

Royal Skousen, “The Original and Printer’s Manuscripts” (Book of Mormon lecture, 1 of 3)


Royal Skousen, “The Printed Editions” (Book of Mormon lecture, 2 of 3)


Royal Skousen, “The Nature of the Original Text” (Book of Mormon lecture, 3 of 3)

Again, the above 3 videos are critical to watch.

Transmitter Not Translator

Joseph Smith referred to himself as the “translator” of the Book of Mormon. However, as Royal Skousen mentioned in the videos above, a better word might actually be a transmitter. A translator knows both languages, reads the text in one language, and writes it down in another. However, if the transcript ink evidence and first-hand witness accounts were correct, Joseph Smith saw the words written in English, would read them to his scribe, and the scribe would write them down in English.

Why is this important? Because it means that someone else was doing the translating. Joseph was only reading what he was being shown. So, in other words, the words shown to Joseph Smith were provided by the Lord. God was the translator.

Here is a short video that summarizes the translation process and points out some things about the translation that are truly miraculous:

Evidence Of Divine Origin Of The Text

1. Royal Skousen Finding: In the above videos, Royal Skousen discusses how, in his study, he found that the Book of Mormon uses many words in a way that has not been used since the 15th and early 16th centuries (long before the KJV Bible translation in the early 17th century). It is not necessarily the words that are unique but the meanings shown by the context in which they are used.

For example, a part of Alma 49:4 reads, “which was so high that the Lamanites could not cast their stones and their arrows at them that they might take effect.” The word “cast” here means to shoot, as in shooting their arrows. But that meaning died out and was no longer used in Joseph Smith’s day. In his day, it had our current meaning of throwing, like throwing a rock. One now shoots arrows and casts stones.

Royal found many words in the Book of Mormon using meanings that were valid during the 15th and early 16th centuries but were no longer used after that. A few of these made it into the KJV Bible translation before they died out completely, but most died out before the days when the KJV Bible was translated.

There would have been no way for Joseph to have known about these meanings and no reason for him to have wanted to include them in the text. Scholars do not know why these word meanings were used in the Book of Mormon text. But repeatedly, words were used for their meanings in the 15th and early 16th centuries. And they were used correctly and properly for these time periods.

It is as though God wanted to put something in the text beyond Joseph Smith’s or people from his time period’s ability to know about it, to show that Joseph was not the one doing the translating. And this is only one example of things done properly in the Book of Mormon that Joseph Smith knew nothing about. Royal discovered more of these and discussed them in the above videos.

2. Avraham Giliadi Finding: Avraham Giliadi is a man who spent 5 years in Israel learning Hebrew and becoming a Rabbi. He was then converted to the Book of Mormon by the spirit he felt when reading it. There were not any members of the LDS church where he lived. He had corresponded with some and was able to be baptized. So, later, he came to Utah to go through the temple.

He later studied at Brigham Young University and spent two years doing the final translation of the Book of Mormon into Hebrew. He said that it was the most amazing experience doing this translation because it was very obvious to him, as he translated the book into Hebrew, that he was translating it back into the original language the book had first been written in.

He said that the Book of Mormon is full of Hebrew parallelism (a form of Hebrew poetry) that was not known during the time of Joseph Smith. He said that someone knowing Hebrew would have never divided the chapters where Joseph Smith and Orson Pratt divided them because they were in the middle of these Hebrew parallelisms.

Avraham also translated the Book of Isaiah from the ancient texts into modern English. He says the Book of Isaiah and the Book of Mormon are structured and filled with Hebrew poetry almost identically. He said he got his spiritual conversion to the Book of Mormon by reading it out of curiosity in Israel. Still, he gained an intellectual testimony of the book while translating it into Hebrew. This next link takes you to a video where Avraham is being interviewed. In this interview, he discusses the things I have mentioned above. Avraham Giliadi Interview. If you start at minute marker 32:37 and go to about minute marker 41:50, that is where he talks about these things.

So Why Would God Copy KJV Language?

First of all, the words read by Joseph Smith to his scribes contained significantly less KJV language than the current Book of Mormon text. Royal Skousen found that many edits and changes were made to the text along the way. Many more than critics of the church even claim. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery made many edits. And so did other church authorities as time passed and new editions were printed. Royal Skousen’s critical analysis of the Book of Mormon transcripts and editions was to get a scholarly handle on these edits and identify the reasons for each.

Most of these edits had nothing to do with KJV language, but some did. James E. Talmage, an Apostle in the early 1900s, headed a committee responsible for making many of the KJV types of additions. This is how some of the KJV language came to be in the text.

In the above 3 videos, Royal Skousen summarizes exactly what he found in this 25-year-long critical analysis. His study and findings were independent of the church and completely transparent. Yale University published Royal Skousen’s edition of the Book of Mormon he calls “The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text.” This version undoes all of these edits and takes us back to what Royal believes is the closest verbiage to what Joseph Smith saw and read to Oliver Cowdery originally.

He has also published photographs of what is left of the original manuscript written by the scribes and the full printer’s manuscript copied from the original by Oliver Cowdery. He published a 5 book series entitled “Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon,” which goes over his 25+ years of analysis of the various edits made for each official church edition. Royal Skousen’s work is amazing.

Did God Use KJV Wording?

Yes, He did. And let me explain to you why I believe He did so.

Old Testament verses, or parts of Old Testament verses, are often quoted in the New Testament. I don’t know Hebrew or how much the Hebrew language has changed over the centuries. But I do know the English language has changed a lot over time. The meanings of words have even changed in my lifetime.

When the New Testament authors quoted Old Testament scripture or Christ quoted Old Testament scripture, do you think they used different wording than their current scriptures? They probably did occasionally when a scribe edited or translated something incorrectly. Still, I believe, for the most part, Jesus and the Apostles quoted the commonly used wording of the scriptures everyone was used to.

Likewise, when the Angel Moroni appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith, both he and Oliver Cowdery say that Moroni quoted many chapters of the Bible. They say much of what he quoted was worded exactly as the KJV Bible reads, but in some instances, Moroni changed the wording or added words to the text. This sounds like what Stan Larson said about the Book of Mormon text, where he said that “there are numerous words deleted, revised, or added to the text.”

Question 3. 


The Book of Mormon includes mistranslated biblical passages that were later changed in Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible. These Book of Mormon verses should match the inspired JST version instead of the incorrect KJV version that Joseph later fixed. A typical example of the differences between the BOM, the KJV, and the JST:

3 NEPHI 13:25-27
25: …Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26: Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27: Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

MATTHEW 6:25-27
(From the King James Version Bible – not the JST)

25: Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26: Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27: Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

MATTHEW 6:25-27
(Joseph Smith Translation of the same passages in the LDS Bible)

25: And, again, I say unto you, Go ye into the world, and care not for the world: for the world will hate you, and will persecute you, and will turn you out of their synagogues.

26: Nevertheless, ye shall go forth from house to house, teaching the people; and I will go before you.

27: And your heavenly Father will provide for you, whatsoever things ye need for food, what ye shall eat; and for raiment, what ye shall wear or put on.

Christ’s Sermon on the Mount in the Bible and the Book of Mormon are identical. But Joseph Smith later corrected the Bible. In doing so, he also contradicted the same identical Sermon on the Mount passage in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is “the most correct book” and was translated a mere decade before the JST. The Book of Mormon was not corrupted over time and did not need correcting. How is it that the Book of Mormon has the incorrect Sermon on the Mount passage and does not match the correct JST version in the first place?

My Answer

The way Jeremy quotes the above scriptures makes it look like he quoted the whole of 3 Nephi 13:25-27. The little three dots “” in verse 25 before the word “Therefore” can be hard to notice. It makes it appear like the 3 Nephi verses are word-for-word identical to the KJV Matthew verses. They are not. He left out half of verse 25. He left out the part that makes the 3 Nephi verses consistent with the JST Matthew verses. So now, let’s quote both sets of verses completely to compare them.

3 NEPHI 13:25-27
25 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he looked upon the twelve whom he had chosen, and said unto them: Remember the words which I have spoken. For behold, ye are they whom I have chosen to minister unto this people. Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26 Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27 Which of you can add one cubit unto his stature by taking thought?

Compared To:

MATTHEW 6:25-27
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

The part I underlined is the part Jeremy left out. Again, he left out the very part of the 3 Nephi verses that made them consistent with the JST Matthew verses. So now lets look at the JST version of Matthew 6:25-27 so I can illustrate what I mean.

MATTHEW 6:25-27
(Joseph Smith Translation of the same passages in the LDS Bible)

25: And, again, I say unto you, Go ye into the world, and care not for the world: for the world will hate you, and will persecute you, and will turn you out of their synagogues.

26: Nevertheless, ye shall go forth from house to house, teaching the people; and I will go before you.

27: And your heavenly Father will provide for you, whatsoever things ye need for food, what ye shall eat; and for raiment, what ye shall wear or put on.

In both the 3 Nephi verses and the JST Matthew verses a very important distinction is added that is not in the KJV Matthew verses. What is added is a clarification that these are instructions specifically meant for the twelve Apostles, and not for the church members as a whole. Both the 3 Nephi verses (the part he left out) and the JST Matthew verses make this distinction, but the KJV does not.

The KJV verses make it sound like Jesus is giving the instructions to everyone that is listening. But the JST Matthew and the 3 Nephi verses are more clear that they were meant for the Apostles as they would teach the gospel to the world.

JST Version Differences

So why is the wording in the JST Matthew verses so different than in the KJV Matthew and the 3 Nephi verses? They convey very similar instructions but use different wording. The reason stems largely from how Joseph Smith’s “translation” of the Bible took place.

You see Joseph was not working off of ancient transcripts in a typical type of translation. He was not reading Hebrew characters, character by character, and putting down the English words that fit the meaning of each Hebrew character the best.

Joseph was translating as a “seer”. Instead of translating a text, he was transmitting ideas. As he would read the verses out of the KJV Bible using the seer stone he would see the things the verses were talking about. If it was describing an event, as in this case with Jesus giving instructions to his Apostles, Joseph would see the event happen as if he were there in person.

Then Joseph would look back to the verses and see if it contained the ideas that he saw. If it did, he left the text alone. If it did not, he would replace it with wording that more clearly described how the event happened. Sometimes he chose to reword whole verses, and other times he would just add a word or two here or there for clarification.

Bible Vs Book Of Mormon Translation

I think it is instructive to note the differences between Joseph’s process of translating the Book of Mormon vs the Bible. As we discussed above when he translated the Book of Mormon he would read the words that were shown to him on either the spectacles or the seer stone. When translating the Bible it was more visionary. He was not reading words or text, but seeing the events, and adding or changing words as needed.

The Two Sermon On The Mount Versions

In Jeremy’s question he makes the statement that “Christ’s Sermon on the Mount in the Bible and the Book of Mormon are identical“. No they are not. They are quite similar, but they are not identical. So why is that? Why are the 3 Nephi and the Matthew versions of the Sermon On The Mount not identical? There are a couple of reasons.

First, one could also ask why the Matthew account is not identical to the other New Testament gospel accounts. The answer here is obvious, it is because different people wrote them. The same is true for the Matthew account and the 3 Nephi account of the Sermon On The Mount, different people wrote them.

But there is one other perhaps more important reason why they are different. They are not accounts of the same Sermon On The Mount. The first recorded in Matthew happened on a hill in northern Israel sometime during Christ’s earthly ministry. The second happened probably at least a year or two later, after Jesus had died and been resurrected, over here on the American continent.

So the sermons are not identical. As an example let’s compare verse 1 in 3 Nephi 13 to verse 1 in Matthew 6:

3 NEPHI 13:1
1 Verily, verily, I say that I would that ye should do alms unto the poor; but take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 6:1
1 Take heed that ye do not your balms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

And you could go through each of the two chapters verse by verse very similarly. They are not identical. Again why are they not identical? Because they are not accounts of the same conversation. They are accounts of the Savior teaching the same lesson, but to two different peoples thousands of miles apart on two different continents. And there are other places where the verses are even more different, and some that are even more identical.

To Wrap Up This Answer

The CES Letter is claiming that these two scriptures, 3 Nephi 13:25-27 and JST Matthew 6:25-27, should read identically. But let’s think about the logic of this claim. Again the Savior taught the same lesson to two different peoples thousands of miles apart on two different continents. These groups of people probably would not have even been able to understand each other by that point because their languages had probably changed beyond recognition. And again these were different prophets writing down Christ’s words to these different groups of people.

Plus as was mentioned above, Joseph Smith’s translation processes happened in very different ways. In one he was given words, and in the other he was shown the events.

So how could anyone expect Joseph Smith’s translation of Matthew 6:25-27 to be identical to his translation of 3 Nephi 13:25-27? The basic instructions were the same. And they both clarified that the instructions were specifically for the Apostles. But they use different wording. I think the fact that they say the same things using different wording is actually evidence of the authenticity of Joseph Smith’s work.

To continue reading this article please click on this link: My Response – Page 2

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