Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon > A Steady Stream of Significant Recognitions | Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
Last year I had a Protestant on Facebook argue with me regarding the Savior’s condemnation of anger, which the KJV and most modern Biblical translations include with the caveat “without a cause”, but which the Joseph Smith Translation presents without any such qualification. The Protestant in question tried to use the phrase “without a cause” essentially to justify being angry with another person if one felt like they should be, which in effect neuters the entire verse of scripture. I argued that the words were arbitrarily added into the scriptures at some later point, that Joseph Smith was right to remove them, and that consequently anger is always sinful and unjustifiable in God’s eyes, no matter how much someone may try to rationalize it.
As it turns out, the Book of Mormon, which quotes Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount to the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, also excludes the phrase “without a cause”—which is curious if one assumes that Joseph Smith simply copied the existing text out of the KJV, as opposed to translating an authentic separate ancient record. I didn’t notice this when I was reading that chapter, but it is interesting to note, as it demonstrates that the portions of the Book of Mormon that reiterate passages or ideas that are also taught in the Bible are not simply a case of copypasta, but at the very least represent thoughtful changes to the text as it was then available.
But then, in addition to the Book of Mormon, there is this:
“While studying at Oxford in the early 1970s, I became aware of an interesting textual variant in the New Testament. In a well-known passage in the Sermon on the Mount, the King James translation of Matthew 5:22 reads, “Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause [eikei] shall be in danger of the judgment” (emphasis added). Yet the phrase without a cause is absent in most of the best and earliest Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Joseph Smith could hardly have guessed that this phrase did not originally belong in this passage, because textual criticism of the Bible was scarcely in its infancy in America in 1829. And yet, significantly, the parallel text in the Sermon at the Temple in the Book of Mormon agrees with those early manuscripts, precisely lacking the phrase without a cause (3 Nephi 12:22).”
As it turns out, Joseph Smith was not alone in declaring that anger in and of itself—not just anger “without a cause”—is inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Other early Christian writers, including Matthew himself, seemed to have come to the same conclusion. At some point, however, the words “without a cause” were added into the Biblical text arbitrarily, probably in order to justify some sort of practice or action of the medieval apostate church.
Errors such as this are commonplace throughout the Bible, which is why it is not fully reliable as a source of religious truth. The Book of Mormon provides a second witness of the truths contained within the Bible while dispelling of the errors in doctrine that have been perpetuated in it through the centuries. Living prophets today also testify of the truths of the Scriptures of their own accord and reveal to us what God’s will and commandments are for us in this day and age. We need all of these things in order to be able to follow strictly down the strait and narrow path that Christ would have us take back to him. Without any one of them, the path is not nearly as clear, and it is far too easy to get led astray, into the dark and forbidden paths created by the Adversary, which just happen to lead through the aisles of many ostensibly Christian churches in the world today.