Monday, March 29, 2021

God as creator and subtle Book of Mormon evidence

Why do I enjoy learning about and finding evidence for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon? I am honestly not sure. My testimony is not based on it, but having an academic interest, I suppose I just like to see the book stand its ground when being attacked by disbelievers. Sometimes, the more subtle evidence is the strongest, just because you would not expect the young farmhand to be thinking of all those details that require special in-depth knowledge.

One thing I just learned that might fall in the subtle evidence category, has to do with the ancient Hebrew word for 'create'. The word is bara (בָּרָא). Translating it into 'create' in English is fine, except for one detail: In Hebrew, only God can create. Humans can 'make' (asah) and 'form' (yatsar) but never 'create' (bara). This is not the case in English, where people can create art, confusion, a business, a good atmosphere, etc. But in Hebrew, creation is reserved for God only.

So what does that have to do with the Book of Mormon? It was not written in Hebrew anyway and we only have an English translation of the original text. Well, my studies have led me to believe that the Nephites had brought and preserved a lot of the Hebrew culture, thinking and even language (see this and this post). For this reason, I thought it might be interesting to see how the Book of Mormon uses the word, 'create'. This is what I found:
  • The word create/created/creating is used 42 times in the Book of Mormon.
  • Every single time this verb is used, God is the subject. Just like 'bara' in the Hebrew Bible, only God creates in the English Book of Mormon.
  • In the Book of Mormon, people make and form. Nephi makes a record (1 Nephi 1:1), wicked people make a great uproar (3 Nephi 1:7), Jaredites form a secret combination (Ether 8:18) and Nephites form laws (3 Nephi 6:4), but they never create anything
Perhaps this was just Joseph Smith's vocabulary and way of speaking? Definitely not! In the Joseph Smith History in the Pearl of Great Price (which is very short compared to the entire Book of Mormon), people create something three times. First a great stir in JSH 1:5, persecution in JSH 1:22 and "a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling" in verse 23.

I will obviously not include all 42 examples of creation in the Book of Mormon in this post, but just a small sample showing that the Book of Mormon makes it absolutely clear who is creating.
For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world; for it is I that hath created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand. (Mosiah 26:23)
But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. (Mormon 9:11)
Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. (3 Nephi 9:15)

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