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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Adieu" in the Book of Mormon

Hey! Is that French? Faaaaaaaaaaaake!

There are many arguments against the Book of Mormon. Some of them make valid points and are difficult to resolve. This is not one of them.

Some critics of the Book of Mormon try to claim it as a fraud because one verse (Jacob 7:27) contains the French word, "Adieu."

This is allegedly a problem, an anachronism, because the word "adieu" was unknown to the ancient Hebrew authors of the book. Therefore the book must be false.

First and foremost, I would like to remind such critics that the Book of Mormon contains around 300,000 words in English, none of which were known to ancient Hebrews.

The presence of a word in a translated text does not mean that that word appeared in the original document. It is a translation! The translator is free to use any word at their disposal which they feel best conveys the required meaning.

For example, In 1737, William Whiston (1667-1752) produced a translation of The Life of Flavius Josephus, written by a Jew born in Jerusalem in A.D. 37. Whiston's translation reads, in part:
Thus have I set down the genealogy of my family as I have found it described in the public records, and so bid adieu to those who calumniate me...
Critics would apparently have us think that either Josephus never existed and William Whiston was a fraud, or that Josephus spoke French.

In addition, even if it were true that the presence of a french word made it a fraud, the argument still wouldn't make sense, because Adieu is an English word. Adieu entered the English language in the 14th century from Middle French. Adieu has been part of the English language longer than the word "banquet", which is also a word in modern French, but banquet entered the English language only in the 15th century. Adieu is no less English than commence, nation, psychology, Bible, vision, or any other word that can be traced back to Latin, Greek, German, French, Spanish, or any other language.

The presence of adieu is no more a challenge to the historicity and authenticity of the Book of Mormon than the 36 uses of "banquet" in the NIV is a challenge to the historicity and authenticity of the Bible.

The word “adieu,” along with other words of French origin, is listed as an English term in Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary, which reflects American English of Joseph Smith’s day.

So Joseph Smith does not even use a French word, he only uses a word of french origin, and even if he did use a French word, it would have nothing to do with the historicity or authenticity of the Book of Mormon any more than it would for the Bible or any other translated book ever.


jenheadjen said...

This is great. I was actually wondering the same thing when I last went through Jacob. I appreciate your research on it - most people wouldn't even know where to start to research such things!

Cristofer Urlaub said...

Yeah, in fairness, some people may not be aware of why this argument is so silly unless they are familiar with the process of translating an ancient text, or any text, but I think that people who deny the Book of Mormon on these grounds clearly just haven't researched or thought about it.

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