Article of the Week
This daily feature is the introduction to a full article by David Larsen which was published in our newest issue, 55:4 To read the full text of this article, follow the link below.
One way to read the Book of Mormon is to be attentive to ways in which it comes across as a translated text. Being mindful of this is wise, because all translations—even inspired translations—lose something of the primary language, particularly as meanings shift when words are rendered into the vocabulary or idioms of the target language.
While the exact nature of the original language used by Abinadi, Ammon, Aaron, or Mormon is unknown, the English text of the Book of Mormon gives helpful hints. Nephi says he wrote his record in the "language of [his] father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians" (1 Ne. 1:2). Roughly a thousand years later, Moroni observed, "And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech. And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record" (Morm. 9:32–33). These two passages suggest that Egyptian and Hebrew elements were found in the language used by Book of Mormon speakers and writers, which allows present-day scholars to look for places where the current translation displays these elements.