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

trepp at telus.net trepp at telus.net
Thu Aug 17 00:28:40 EDT 2006

Quoting b-hebrew-request at lists.ibiblio.org:

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Kevin Graham wrote:

> >  If ... and seems to be a common English idiom, so I don't see that it can
> >be exclusive to Hebrew.  To use "if ... then" in any of the passages below
> >would lead to odd English.  Are you sure it never occurs in the KJV?
> Well the argument goes like this. The normal usage of "if-then" (i.e. if she 
> calls, then I will go) was found in the Book of Mormon manuscript to be 
> "if-and" (i.e. if she calls and I will go). This makes for poor English, but 
> if being translated from Hebrew, we are told that it makes perfect sense.
But that is not a sound argument. To couple "if" with "and" is normal when you 
are using the sequence to anticipate a yet unintroduced result of a 
hypothetical pat event. An example would be "if he sayeth unto the earth move 
and it is moved".... It sounds like it is setting us up for some point to the 
sentence that follows. What does that line go on to say? If there is something 
further to expect and I have already used the coordinating conjunction, 
then "if/and" has served its purpose.

Only if there is only an immediate condition in the next phrase, then we see an 
immediate result foretold for the result of the potential thing's fulfillment. 
Generally one could say for one purpose, "if he sayeth unto the earth move and 
it is moved" (setting up for a future condition based on an expressed condition 
of action in the past), or one could say, for another purpose, "if he sayeth 
unto the earth move then it is to be moved" (as giving only a direct 
correlation between a postulated future action and its future yet immediate 
> There is no other way to explain this phenomenon unless of course the person 
> from which this BoM text was translated, was an ancient Hebrew speaking Jew.
It makes better sense to think otherwise.
> We are told that there are no examples of this phenomenon in any English 
> translation in any English text available to the translator in 1830. The KJV 
> doesn't have any if-and constructions because it is poor English, and was 
> changed to read if-then.
I always use the "if/and" setup for instructing others what to do if something 
occurs in a particular circumstance, and no one seems to find it unexpected or 
non-standard. I certainly am not influenced by Joseph Smith's writing. 

Yours truly,
Travis Jackson

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