Why is the Book of Mormon written in King James English? Also why do we (Mormons) use the King James translation of the Old & New Testament?
note: I need the answer: it is pertinent to my salivation, i.e., I get dry mouth just thinking about it.
t-max, from Utah
I would suggest that when you plan to think about this burning question, you pop an ice cube in your mouth. That should help with both the burning and the salivation.
First, you must recognize that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon specifically as it was given to him, word for word. With both the Seer Stone and the Urim and Thummim, the translation of a character would appear before him and would remain until the scribe had correctly repeated the word or words that the Prophet told him.
There are a couple of circumstances that bear on the similarity to the King James Version. However, the Book of Mormon is not written in Elizabethan English, except for the copies of the twenty chapters of Isaiah that are found in the Book. The Book of Mormon has the structure of a translation from the Hebrew language. There are many Hebrew literary forms found in the Book of Mormon. For instance, over 50% of the book is couched in chiastic structures. There are, in fact, at least 922 chiasma in the Book of Mormon. This is a very curious fact because the Book of Mormon was not translated from the Hebrew, but from the Egyptian language–but I digress.
One of the cogent circumstances related to the translation of the Isaiah chapters into the terminology of the King James Version is that the King James Version of the Bible was in 1829 about the only English language bible in existence. It was the one found in the homes of most of the families. So it is logical that the Lord would dictate the scriptures into the language of the day.
The second cogent circumstance is that the King James Version is a very accurate translation of Isaiah from the origin Hebrew (or Egyptian, as the case may be). Nephi and Jacob copied into their records in First and Second Nephi, 17 chapters of Isaiah directly from the Brass Plates of Laban. The Brass Plates of Laban were written in Egyptian, and were very likely an ancient document even in Lehi’s time. It is recorded in the Book of Mormon that both Lehi and Jeremiah added their records to the Brass Plates of Laban.
If one compares the wording the Book of Mormon Isaiah with that of the King James version one finds that they are nearly identical-nearly, but not completely. Where there was reason to deviate from the King James version, it was done. So it was not just copied. As a matter of fact, there are 348 instances in which different words from the King James are used. These differences include additions of words that were not in the King James, subtraction of words that were in the King James, and the changing of one word or phrase for another. The wording of the Book of Mormon is an extremely powerful evidence of its authenticity.