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By Gary F. Zeolla
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (i.e. Mormonism) teaches that men can become gods, that God the Father used to be a man, that there is more than one true God, along with many other doctrines that conflict with historic Christianity (Ludlow, pp. 71- 79).
The problem is NONE of these ideas are contained in the Bible (see Mormonism vs. The Bible). Thus, Mormons are forced to make the claim that the Bible used to contain these ideas, but they were somehow removed from it.
Brigham Young (the second president of the Mormon church) proclaimed, ". . . many precious things may have been rejected in the compilation and translation of the Bible . . ." (Ludlow, p. 346). Mormon missionaries will often reiterate this idea by saying, "Precious truths have been lost from the Bible."
This claim that the Bible has been altered is an interesting one. But it is easy to make such a claim. It is another thing altogether to verify it. The evidence, in fact, argues otherwise.
The preface to the New King James Version of the Bible states, "There is more manuscript support for the New Testament than for any other body of ancient literature. Over five thousand Greek, eight thousand Latin, and many more manuscripts in other languages attest the integrity of the New Testament" (NKJV, p. vii).
These manuscripts have been discovered throughout the entire area of what used to be the Roman Empire. Some of the manuscripts date to within decades of the originals. So any systematic attempt to alter them would have been extremely difficult (McDowell, pp. 39-52).
This is not to say there are no variants between the manuscripts. There are differences. But most of these are insignificant. "Some variations exist in the spelling of Greek words, in word order, and in similar details. These ordinarily do not show up in translation and do not affect the sense of the text in any way" (NKJV, p. vii).
In the few places where a variant would affect the meaning of a verse, most modern day translations will indicate the alternate reading in footnotes. However, these differences ". . . should not overshadow the overwhelming degree of agreement which exists among the ancient records" (NKJV, p. viii).
Thus, the overall integrity of the New Testament text remains intact. The burden of proof is with the one who claims otherwise.
As regards the Old Testament, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls helped to uphold its integrity. These scrolls were ". . . the remnants of the library of a religious community which had its headquarters at Khirbet Qumran between 145 BC and 68 AD . . ." (Bruce, p. 297).
In 68 AD, during the Jewish-Roman wars, this community carefully sealed its scrolls in jars, hid them, and fled the area. These jars remained undisturbed till their discovery in 1947 (McDowell, p. 57).
Among these scrolls, at least parts of all of the books of the Old Testament were found except for Esther. These manuscripts date to the second to third centuries BC. They thus predated by 1000 years the oldest copies we had previously (Bruce, p. 298). Upon comparison, there was found to be no substantial differences between these two sets of manuscripts (McDowell, pp. 57-58).
For example, "Even though two copies of Isaiah discovered in Qumran Cave I near the Dead Sea in 1947 were a thousand years earlier than the oldest dated manuscript previously known (A.D.980), they proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text. The 5 percent of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations of spelling" (Archer, p.25).
Furthermore, since these scrolls were unknown and undisturbed for 1900 years, there is no way any particular doctrines could have been "lost" or removed from them.
More details on these matters can be had by consulting such books as Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell or The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? by F. F. Bruce.
All this information demonstrates, "Precious truths have NOT been lost from the Bible." As such, Mormon doctrines are not, and never have been, in the Bible. For more on the textual integrity of the New Testament text, see An Introduction to Textual Criticism.
The links below are direct links to where the book can be purchased from Books-A-Million.
All Scripture references from: New King James Version . Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, unless otherwise indicated.
Archer, Gleason L. Survey of Old Testament Introduction . Chicago: Moody Press, 1974.
Bruce, F. F. "Dead Sea Scrolls." Evangelical Dictionary of Theology , ed. Walter A. Elwell, p. 297-299. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984.
Ludlow, Daniel. ed. Latter-Day Prophets Speak. USA: Bookcraft, 1988.
McDowell, Josh. Evidence That Demands a Verdict . San Bernadino, CA: Here's Life Publishers, 1979.
Have Precious Truths Been Lost from the Bible? Copyright © 1999 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.dtl.org).
The above article originally appeared in Darkness to Light
newsletter in 1991.
It was posted on this Web site in July 1996.
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