The new translation of the Book of Mormon, according to my understanding, is going to be a bit different and much more involved than the first one done by Joseph Smith.
Whisper, Speak, Speech, Crying
For those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him power, that he may whisper concerning them, even as it were out of the ground; and their speech shall whisper out of the dust. (2 Nephi 26:16)
And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust. (Isaiah 29:4)
And she shall be brought down, and shall speak out of the ground, and her speech shall be low out of the dust; and her voice shall be as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and her speech shall whisper out of the dust. (JST Isaiah 29:4)
And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you:
Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust? (Moroni 10:27)
The Josephite, when he makes his translation of the plates of Mormon, is going to hear the actual, un-translated words on the plates, in their original language. His spokesman, the guy who will be helping him, is going to declare these un-translated words, along with their interpretation, to the remnant.
Write, Writing, Words
And the Lord said unto me also:
I will raise up unto the fruit of thy loins; and I will make for him a spokesman.
And I, behold, I will give unto him that he shall write the writing of the fruit of thy loins, unto the fruit of thy loins; and the spokesman of thy loins shall declare it.
And the words which he shall write shall be the words which are expedient in my wisdom should go forth unto the fruit of thy loins.
And it shall be as if the fruit of thy loins had cried unto them from the dust; for I know their faith.
And they shall cry from the dust; yea, even repentance unto their brethren, even after many generations have gone by them.
And it shall come to pass that their cry shall go, even according to the simpleness of their words. because of their faith their words shall proceed forth out of my mouth unto their brethren who are the fruit of thy loins; and the weakness of their words will I make strong in their faith, unto the remembering of my covenant which I made unto thy fathers. (2 Nephi 3:18-21)
These words and the writing spoken of here is not the translation of the words on the plates, but the actual words. The Josephite will be copying the characters on the plates, to be published, along with an English translation of those characters—(which English translation is necessary, for, according to Moroni: “none other people knoweth our language; and because that none other people knoweth our language, therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof”)—and will be teaching the spokesman how to pronounce the characters and words that he has copied, for he (the Josephite) will know how to pronounce these words, for he will hear these words whispered to him. Then, the spokesman will take the same and declare them, in the original language, along with their translation, to the remnant. In this way the remnant comes to the knowledge of their fathers, even the knowledge of their language, for they will learn their language, and once they understand these words, and hear them declared by the spokesman by the power of the Holy Ghost, something marvelous will occur, for these words, written in weakness, are now spoken and understood. Remember what Nephi and Moroni said about their language?
And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men. (2 Nephi 33:1)
And I said unto him:
Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing; for thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them; and thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands.
Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them.
Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words. (Ether 12:23-25)
The Nephite language was weak in a written form, but when spoken by the power of the Holy Ghost, it was “mighty” or “powerful and great” and virtually impossible to convey in a written form. Now, the Gentiles will get the interpreted version of the Book of Mormon, in plain and weak English, but the remnant is going to get the actual words, in spoken form, spoken by the spokesman by the power of the Holy Ghost, who will be taught by the Josephite; and the remnant is going to freak out at how powerful these words are. The Josephite “shall be esteemed highly among the fruit of thy loins,” and how could he not? When you come to someone and give them a spoken language that transcends anything on earth, in power, all you feel is gratitude. Do you remember when Amulon and the other priests of Noah joined the Lamanites? What did king Laman do?
And now the name of the king of the Lamanites was Laman, being called after the name of his father; and therefore he was called king Laman. And he was king over a numerous people. And he appointed teachers of the brethren of Amulon in every land which was possessed by his people; and thus the language of Nephi began to be taught among all the people of the Lamanites. (Mosiah 24:3-4)
Or, when the people of Zarahemla were found, what did king Mosiah do?
And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them. But it came to pass that Mosiah caused that they should be taught in his language. And it came to pass that after they were taught in the language of Mosiah, Zarahemla gave a genealogy of his fathers, according to his memory; and they are written, but not in these plates. (Omni 1:17-18)
Why was the language of Nephi so important? Because it rocked, in its spoken form. After many generations, though, the Nephites had altered their written languages, both the Egyptian and the Hebrew:
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. But the Lord knoweth the things which we have written, and also that none other people knoweth our language; and because that none other people knoweth our language, therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof. (Mormon 9:32-34)
Do not think for a minute that this alteration that Moroni speaks of was a corruption of their language. No, what Moroni means is that their spoken language was so powerful that they had to alter both Egyptian and Hebrew to accommodate it. In other words, they had to upgrade these written language forms to try to make them convey the meaning of the exceedingly powerful spoken form they used, for the Nephites diligently improved everything around them, even their spoken and written languages. In the case of Egyptian, they could not sufficiently upgrade it to match the spoken form. In the case of Hebrew, they were able to upgrade it to convey all the meaning. But they were commanded by God to write this record in Egyptian, not in Hebrew. The record was intended to eventually be translated into English, and English, interestingly enough, has a connection to Egyptian, according to the LDS Bible Dictionary:
From latter-day revelation we learn that writing sacred records and the recording of genealogy began with Adam and his immediate family. Adam and the early patriarchs had a perfect language that was both spoken and written. See D&C 107:57; Moses 6:5–6, 45–46; Abr. 1:31. This was an important intellectual ability of the people of God, and was given by inspiration. However, among nonbelievers it appears that there was an intellectual retrogression, so that many peoples subsequently have been without the blessings of a highly cultured spoken and written language. There has been a gradual renaissance in literary things, but nothing yet has equaled the pure and undefiled language of Adam. The promise is, however, that perfection in language and writing will return in the future with the full establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth (Zeph. 3:9; see also Moses 6:5–7).
The English alphabet in use at the present day is derived from that used by the Egyptian priests in the 25th century B.C., the intermediate alphabets in the line of descent being the Phoenician, Greek, and Roman. In the earliest Egyptian writing the symbols used (called hieroglyphs) were pictures denoting ideas or tangible objects; later they denoted sounds, as in modern alphabets. Papyrus (made from the pith of the plant Cyperus Papyrus) was the ordinary writing material. It becomes brittle with age, but there are still in existence many thousands of manuscripts written upon it. Some of the papyrus rolls were of great length; one that has been preserved is 144 feet long. The writing was in a series of parallel columns. A reed pen and vegetable ink were used. In Babylonia books were written on clay tablets or cylinders while the clay was damp, with a sharp-pointed instrument called a stylus. The symbols used were cuneiform or wedge-shaped. Large libraries of books written in this way have been discovered.
In 1887 a very important discovery was made at Tell el-Amarna in Egypt, between Thebes and Memphis, of some clay tablets with cuneiform inscriptions on them. They proved to be the official correspondence between King Amenophis Ⅳ (about 1380 B.C.) and Egyptian governors stationed in Palestine and elsewhere. Jerusalem and Lachish are mentioned by name. This discovery shows that Babylonian writing was used in Palestine 14 centuries before Christ and was the usual medium for official intercourse among the nations of the East. (See Tell el-Amarna Letters.)
It is clear from the Old Testament that the Israelites used rolls (Jer. 36:2, 18, 23) that were made of sheep or goat skin. The Hebrew alphabet was the same as the Phoenician. The words were written from right to left. The oldest existing Hebrew inscription is that of the Moabite Stone. After the return from the Exile the shape of the letters changed somewhat.
The original manuscripts of the New Testament were probably written on papyrus; the earliest copies now in existence are on vellum. Manuscripts written in capital letters are called uncials, while those written in smaller letters and a running hand are called cursives. Uncial manuscripts are, as a class, older than cursives. No uncial is later than the 11th century, and no cursive earlier than the 9th. The oldest manuscripts are written with no breaks between the words and very few stops.
The Book of Mormon presents many interesting insights regarding the problems of writing. See Jacob 4:1–3; Mosiah 1:3–4; Morm. 9:32–34; Ether 12:23–25.
The English language, also, according to what I wrote in the 10th part of the 13-part series analyzing the New Articles of Confederation (NAC), will be transformed after the passage of the NAC. I wrote in that post that this has prophetic implications, but that I wasn’t going to get into it there. I also am not going to get into it here.
I suppose that the Gentiles who repent will also be offered the opportunity to learn the original Nephite tongue and so get the words in their un-translated form, but it appears that the Lord intends to give to each people His word in their own language. As the remnant’s original language was lost to them, it must be restored and given back to them, thus, they will get the word in their own language, after all, and they will most likely leave off all the other tongues they have learned over the many years since the demise of the Nephites.
Remember Nephi’s exposition of Isaiah’s prophecy in 2 Nephi 27?
And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall bring forth unto you the words of a book, and they shall be the words of them which have slumbered.
This is not the translation of the words of the book, but the actual words.
But the book shall be delivered unto a man, and he shall deliver the words of the book, which are the words of those who have slumbered in the dust, and he shall deliver these words unto another; but the words which are sealed he shall not deliver, neither shall he deliver the book.
Did Joseph deliver only the translation of the words on the plates to Martin Harris to take to professor Anthon? No, he copied off a bunch of the characters from off the plates (which were the words of the book) and translated some of them, and then gave all of that to Martin.
And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth.
Again, these are the actual words, not a translation. The entire world is going to have the revelation of all things given to them, by these words, written by Moroni in the Nephite language, and read to them by the power of Christ, in their original tongue. How will the world be able to understand these words spoken in this ancient tongue? Why, by the outpouring of the gift of the interpretation of tongues upon the world, of course.
Remember, yet again, that the Nephite language was astoundingly powerful in its spoken form, while the Jaredite language was amazingly powerful in its written form. As these words were to be audibly read to the people, Moroni had to write the Jaredite words in his Nephite language, so that they could later be spoken to the world. And thus Moroni would get his wish, for all these righteous Nephites were so dang powerful in faith, that any darn thing they wanted they got:
Behold, I am Moroni; and were it possible, I would make all things known unto you. (Mormon 8:12)
Oh, it’s possible alright, Moroni, for the Lord is a miracle worker and He has already provided a way to make your desire come to pass. Moroni is indeed going to make all things known to everyone, both quick and dead. Okay, continuing on with 2 Nephi 27:
And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men; for the Lord God hath said that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead. Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to bring forth the words of the book; and in the mouth of as many witnesses as seemeth him good will he establish his word; and wo be unto him that rejecteth the word of God!
Once again, these words must be brought forth (copied and published in their un-translated form) and spoken in their original tongue in order for these prophecies to be fulfilled.
But behold, it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall say unto him to whom he shall deliver the book:
Take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying:
Read this, I pray thee.
And the learned shall say:
Bring hither the book, and I will read them.
And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God.
And the man shall say:
I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed.
Then shall the learned say:
I cannot read it.
Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned shall say:
I am not learned.
Then shall the Lord God say unto him:
The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.
Touch not the things which are sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time; for I will show unto the children of men that I am able to do mine own work.
Wherefore, when thou hast read the words which I have commanded thee, and obtained the witnesses which I have promised unto thee, then shalt thou seal up the book again, and hide it up unto me, that I may preserve the words which thou hast not read, until I shall see fit in mine own wisdom to reveal all things unto the children of men.
For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.
We have always interpreted these passages as applying to Joseph Smith and that “read the words” means “translate the words into English,” but these passages might actually mean what they actually say, for when the Josephite reads the words, he’s going to literally read them, in the actual Nephite tongue.
Also, these passages don’t exactly match up to Joseph Smith. For example, after the incident with the learned man, it says “that the Lord God will deliver again the book” to the unlearned man, who we always assume to be Joseph Smith, but did Joseph not have the plates during this episode and then get them back? To my knowledge, he was always in possession of the plates when he copied off the characters and gave them to Martin. So, delivering again the book makes no sense, unless the passage is talking of a future event, with the Josephite as the unlearned man. Also, when did Joseph say, “I am not learned?” We have no record of such an event. And when did the Lord say to him, “The learned shall not read them…” and so on and so forth? We have no record of any such revelation given to Joseph. We latter-day saints have always just assumed that these transactions and revelations happened to Joseph Smith, and he merely didn’t record them. It certainly is possible (not necessarily probable) that our assumptions up to that point are correct, but then we get to this next part, which also doesn’t jive: “then shalt thou seal up the book again, and hide it up unto me.” To my knowledge, Joseph never sealed up the plates, nor did he hide them up in the earth again; he merely handed them over to Moroni. So, these prophecies may, indeed, be speaking of the Josephite and not of Joseph Smith, and what happened to Joseph Smith may have been just a shadow fulfillment.
And again it shall come to pass that the Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him:
Forasmuch as this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men—therefore, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, yea, a marvelous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise and learned shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid.
And wo unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord! And their works are in the dark; and they say:
Who seeth us, and who knoweth us?
And they also say:
Surely, your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay.
But behold, I will show unto them,
saith the Lord of Hosts,
that I know all their works.
For shall the work say of him that made it,
he made me not?
Or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it,
he had no understanding?
Now, this is so obviously speaking of the Josephite, according to my understanding, yet it says, “And again it shall come to pass that the Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words.” So, this links the Josephite to the preceding verses. The only conclusion that I can come to, then, is that this chapter is speaking of yet future events.
And the Lord said:
I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people who serve me, that I may discover unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations. (Alma 37:23)
Certainly Joseph Smith had and used a stone which shone in the darkness of a hat. But the next verse does not fit Joseph Smith:
And now, my son, these interpreters were prepared that the word of God might be fulfilled, which he spake, saying:
I will bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations; and except they repent I will destroy them from off the face of the earth; and I will bring to light all their secrets and abominations, unto every nation that shall hereafter possess the land.
All their secret abominations are not on the plates of Mormon, which is only an abridgment; but they are on the 24 plates of Ether, which Joseph did not translate. So, this speaks of a yet future work.
And I am the same who hideth up this record unto the Lord; the plates thereof are of no worth, because of the commandment of the Lord. For he truly saith that no one shall have them to get gain; but the record thereof is of great worth; and whoso shall bring it to light, him will the Lord bless.
For none can have power to bring it to light save it be given him of God; for God wills that it shall be done with an eye single to his glory, or the welfare of the ancient and long dispersed covenant people of the Lord.
And blessed be he that shall bring this thing to light; for it shall be brought out of darkness unto light, according to the word of God; yea, it shall be brought out of the earth, and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and come unto the knowledge of the people; and it shall be done by the power of God. (Mormon 8:14-16)
This passage is curious because the Josephite prophecy specifically says “Behold, that seer will the Lord bless.” Also, I suppose that the plates, being gold-plated, would shine once they come out of the earth, and so maybe this has already been fulfilled by Joseph Smith, but I get the feeling that this is speaking of something a bit more miraculous than that, for it says that it (which can include the shining) shall be done by the power of God.
As the Josephite’s ministry is going to be miraculous through and through, the plates literally shining strikes me as something that God would really do, for this is THE great and marvelous work, in which He shows forth His miraculous arm of power. So, as these plates will save the entire world this time around, and this is going to be the success of the ages, glory should accompany it at every turn. This is going to be a very big, magnificent deal and I don’t see God opting for mundane stuff this second time around. So, methinks that the very plates are going to glow and shine with miraculous light.