[b-hebrew] Hebrew "If-and" construction and the Book of Mormon

Kevin Graham kevlds at hotmail.com
Wed Aug 16 12:26:54 EDT 2006

Hello Yonah, thanks for your comment.

== Kevin, I think you're confused.

One thing I should make clear is that this is NOT my argument. I am just 
testing it to see if it stands the test of scrutiny. This was forwarded by 
an LDS scholar and it hasn’t received much attention outside Mormon circles.

== The examples given would *not* be normal English.

They’re not? Royal Skousen’s expertise is English, not Hebrew, He is the 
scholar who clams to have “discovered” these Hebraisms in the original 
manuscripts of the Book of Mormon. It seems like good English to me to say 
“if” so and so happens “then” so and so will occur as a result. He argues 
that in Hebrew it is common to say “if” so and so happens, “and” such and 
such will be the result. He argues that at least 14 occurrences of this 
phenomenon appear in the original Book of Mormon manuscript (of which only 
22% is extant)and that it only makes sense if the text represents a literal, 
word for word translation from Hebrew.

It is true that the Book of Mormon claims to have been written in an unknown 
language called “Reformed Egyptian,” but the writers were Hebrew speaking. 
The Book of Mormon begins its story as a small family of Jews (during 600 
b.c) takes to the sea and travels to the Americas.
One Old Testaments scholar, Margaret Barker, recently emailed me and 
confirmed that:
“Yes, this is normal usage in the Hebrew Bible, but I cannot say that it is 
not used elsewhere - I do not have that expertise. If you want to check it 
out, consult the massive standard work on the subject: Gesenius' Hebrew 
Grammar.  I have the second Englsih edition, 1910, but I should imagine that 
the referencing system did not alter. You need sections 112 ff and gg, [ 
also section 159 o] which describe the uses of the 'perfect consecutive' 
form of the verb. This just means that the perfect, when prefaced with 'and' 
becomes an imperfect.  'The perfect consecutive is frequently employed with 
a certain emphasis to introduce the apodosis after sentences or their 
equivalent, which contain a condition...'  It goes on to give 'if' as one of 
the words that can trigger this usage. ...   So literally, e.g., 'If you do 
something, and I will do it too...'”

The thing is there appears to be no other explanation where Smith could have 
derived this unusual “if-and” construction if he were just inventing the 
Book of Mormon from his imagination. We have other “scriptures” that he 
claims to have written via “revelation” but there is not one single example 
of the “if-and” construction that appears in the original BoM manuscript. 
This phenomenon was edited out when the BoM was published because it was bad 
English, but the original manuscript retains the “errors” which Skousen 
believes is strong evidence that its source is in preexilic Judaism.

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