The United Bible Society’s Greek New Testament; the Book of Mormon and BYU’s Prof. Stephen E. Robinson, PhD

[Note: In light of my post tomorrow night dealing with the Jehovah Witness’s New World Translation and one of the Witness’ leading apologist, Howard Mazzalerro, I am reposting my December 2008 topic of four years ago on the Book of Mormon. This section was a part of a longer paper I delivered to the South Carolina Academy of Religion at Clemson University around 1989 entitled Translating and Revelating The Word of God: Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.]

In the religious academic world, college and university degrees (especially on the advance master and doctoral levels) are usually given to show that the candidate has achieved some level of scholarship and objectivity. One such individual is Stephen E. Robinson, a Mormon scholar and apologist and head of the department of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University.

Robinson earned his PhD at Duke University under James H. Charlesworth (now the George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature and director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Project at Princeton University, emeritus). At Duke, Robinson worked with Charlesworth on the Syriac text and translation of the Odes of Solomon. Thus, Professor Robinson was the one Mormon scholar I thought could answer a textual question relating to the New Testament on the Book of Mormon.

Here is the situation:

Fact: In the Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ comes to America to teach the Lost Tribes of Israel (3 Nephi). In 3 Nephi 13: 9 -13 Jesus is in America and teaching the Nephites the same Lord’s Prayer of the Greek Gospel. One reading this account will notice that this version of the Lord’s Prayer is the same prayer as in Matthew 6: 9-13 of the King James Bible.

Problem: If, as Joseph Smith claimed, the Book of Mormon is the uncorrupted and pure text / translation “translated” from the Golden Plates, then we should have a textual witness independent of the textual problems and corruptions of the standard Greek texts that make up the Textus Receptus (the bases for the 1611 King James Bible / New Testament) a received Greek text which has been labeled by Bruce Metzger has one with “blatant errors” (A Textual Commentary; p.10).

In the United Bibles Society’s Greek New Testament (as well as the Nestle Aland Greek New Testament), the earliest witnesses confirm this prayer ends with the phase “but deliver us from evil.” and that the King James Version inclusion of the longer ending “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” is a redaction composed from I Chronicles 29: 11 - 13 “in order to adapt the Prayer for liturgical use in the early church.” (A Textual Commentary; p. 14). The certain textual criteria that the original text ended with “evil” was given an “A” rating by the United Bible Society's Greek New Testament, 4ed. Textual Committee.

When I pointed this out to the Mission Elders of the LDS Church, neither they nor their State Mission President had an answer to the problem. However, they assured me that the Book of Mormon was not nor could it be wrong, and that at this point Smith was simply not copying the Lord’s Prayer from the King James Bible.

The Elders told me that the scholars at the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies at Brigham Young University were the textual scholars who could answer my question.

Since this was a New Testament Greek textual question / problem, I decided to contact Professor Stephen Edward Robinson, PhD a Mormon scholar and apologist who is head of the department of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University. And since both Robinson and I were members of the Society of Biblical Literature, I could use the Society’s Member Handbook to get his office phone number.

I called Robinson’s faculty number at BYU only to get a recording at which time I left my name, phone number and that I had a Book of Mormon question requesting him to kindly return my phone call. After a week and two unanswered requests for Professor Robinson to return my calls, I told the Elders that I was not having any luck with the Dept. of Ancient Scripture a BYU.

One of the Mission Elders told me that he could get the home phone number of Dr. Robinson (an unlisted number), but he wanted me to assure him he would remain anonymous (which I agreed to).

That night about 7:00 pm Utah time, I called Prof. Robinson’s home and got his wife. I told her that I had a textual question on the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi and would like to ask Dr. Robinson about it. Mrs. Robinson said he was not in at the time, but “may come in latter“. About an hour later I called again and got their five year old daughter (as listed in the faculty description). She told me she was alone and that both "mommy and daddy are not there". As she paused for some time to give me more information, I could tell she was being coached in what to say. I told her I hoped her mom and dad would return soon as she was too young to stay at home alone. In about forty-five minutes I called back and got Mrs. Robinson on the phone again. When I asked her if Prof. Robinson was there, she angrily stated he was not home and that “he is never coming home as for as you are concerned!” and hung up.

While I’m sure most all LDS Mormons strongly believe the Book of Mormon is true and correct just as Joseph Smith claimed it to be (a true and perfect translation of what both the Lost Tribes of Israel and Jesus Christ said and did), the facts speak for themselves when a Temple Mormon family must lie to run from the truth (as the Robinsons did)while the world and claims created by the Prophet and Founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints can clearly be seen as a concocted “Made in America Religion”, that is, invented to give people in the early nineteenth century Burned Over District in up state New York a new direction in the confused world of the Bible and freedom of religion in the United States.