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Within Mormonism, it is relatively easy to believe that the Book of Mormon (BOM) is of divine origin for two main reasons:

Reason One: The storyline of the BOM begins around 600 BCE with a small group of Israelites seeking to obtain a copy of the Bible, which includes texts up to mid-Isaiah. They plan to journey to the Western Hemisphere and want to bring these sacred writings with them. These writings, etched into “Brass Plates,” were obtained through theft and murder. Since Mormons believe the Brass Plates traveled with these Israelites, it is acceptable to think that when portions of these etchings are quoted in the BOM, it strengthens the faith of believers to see that the text largely matches the current King James Bible. This serves as a handy conversion tool incorporated by Joseph Smith. His hindsight allowed him to include large portions of the Old Testament, which tempts the faithful to favor the BOM over the Bible. This is reinforced by the eighth Article of Faith, which casts doubt on the Bible while elevating the BOM as a better translation. When chapters of Isaiah appear in the BOM, the faithful often remark, “Isn’t it convincing how the Brass Plates are mostly accurate to the Bible?” without considering that the Brass Plates never existed or explaining why many post-Isaiah passages (after 601 BCE) appear throughout the BOM.

Reason Two: Although apologists may deny it, the membership generally prefers the BOM to the Bible. This preference stems from the belief that the BOM is “modern” scripture meant for our time and from Joseph Smith’s disclaimer in the eighth Article of Faith. Twentieth-century General Conferences have consistently counseled members to focus on the BOM. While they don’t discourage Biblical study, the church prefers the BOM because it is modern, clarifies Biblical issues, and is unique to Mormonism. Free copies of the BOM are readily available to anyone interested.

In this context, as Mormons read the BOM, they may mistakenly feel that the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. was a spiritual genius. While he was certainly gifted, he cannot take credit for most of the text in the BOM, as it was lifted directly from the King James Bible.

Here are a few lesser-known examples:

Moroni 7:18 reads, “[F]or with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.” Without familiarity with the Bible and growing up with an emphasis on the BOM, one might believe this verse to be divinely inspired and further proof of Joseph Smith’s prophetic role. However, those familiar with the New Testament will recognize it from Matthew 7:2, which states, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.” The origin of Moroni 7:18 is directly from Matthew 7:2, a parallel that may go unnoticed by many Mormons because they spend more time in the BOM than the New Testament.

1 Nephi 10:8 (see the provided image) shows how Joseph Smith often combined several Biblical verses into one of his own. There are many glaring examples of this in First Nephi, as highlighted in the video “The Bible to Book of Mormon Comparative.

1 Nephi 4:13 contains the famous statement, “It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.” Those who don’t spend much time in the Bible might attribute this solely to the BOM, thereby strengthening their testimony of Joseph Smith. However, John 11:50 reads, “[I]t is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” This often-quoted passage in Mormonism did not originate in the BOM.

For those interested in seeing more of the thousands of parallels, there are over 1,500 pages of examples on the free website, in the Bible to Book of Mormon Comparative portal. Visit the site to look up any of your favorite verses in the BOM and see how many originated from the King James Bible.