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The Book of Mormon and First Corinthians


Introduction

Joseph Smith made extensive use of the book of First Corinthians, specifically the King James Version of the text. The source text shows up in a number of places in the Book of Mormon, especially when the Book discusses the Resurrection. And then, of course, there are the fairly extensive quotes from First Corinthians in the book of Moroni, which will be considered later. The quotations from I Corinthians can be divided into four broad categories - Miscellaneous Quotes, the treatise on Spiritual Gifts, the treatise on Faith, Hope and Charity and the treatise on the Resurrection.

Miscellaneous Quotes

There are a few miscellaneous references to First Corinthians in the Book of Mormon. Consider the following:

I Corinthians 1:11: For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren...that there are contentions among you. Moroni 8:4 And now, my son, I speak unto you concerning that which grieveth me exceedingly; for it grieveth me that there should disputations rise among you.
I Corinthians 3:15 ...but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. I Nephi 22:17 ...for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire.
I Corinthians 3:19 ...the wisdom of this world is foolishness... II Nephi 9:28 ...wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness...
I Corinthians 10:13 ...who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able...that ye may be able to bear it. Alma 13:28 ...that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear...
I Corinthians 11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself... III Nephi 18:29 For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul...

Note that when Jesus spoke these words in 33 AD, the Book of First Corinthians had not yet been written.

The Treatise on Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual Gifts in the Book of Moroni

The apostle Paul wrote the first epistle to the Corinthians in order to clear up what he perceived as some misconceptions in the early church. One of these was the use of spiritual gifts, especially glossolia (speaking in tongues). This treatise can be found in I Corinthians 12 and 14. Moroni chapter 10 contains some extensive, verbatim quotes from I Corinthians 12.

Moroni 10:8-17 I Corinthians 12:4-11
10:8 And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them. 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
10:9 For behold, to one is given by the Spirit of God, that he may teach the word of wisdom; 10 And to another, that he may teach the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
10:11 And to another, exceedingly great faith; and to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 12:9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10:12 And again, to another, that he may work mighty miracles; 13 And again, to another, that he may prophesy concerning all things; 14 And again, to another, the beholding of angels and ministering spirits;
15 And again, to another, all kinds of tongues; 16 And again, to another, the interpretation of languages and of divers kinds of tongues.
12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
10:17 And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will. 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

Note that Moroni follows I Corinthians very closely. The spiritual gifts and their attributes are given in the same order as that in I Corinthians. Note also the use of language unique to the King James Version. The word 'severally' appears only once in the Book of Mormon, in this passage. The word 'manifestation' is found a number of times in the Book of Mormon, but in every case, it is used in the phrase 'manifestation of the Spirit', as it is used here in I Corinthians 12:7.

There can be very little doubt that these passages are linked. This becomes more significant when we consider that there are other references to I Corinthians 12 in the Book of Moroni.

I Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man... Moroni 7:16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man...
I Corinthians 12:3 ...and [that] no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Moroni 7:44 ...and if a man...confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ...

Spiritual Gifts outside of the Book of Moroni

There are references to I Corinthians 12 outside of the Book of Moroni.

I Corinthians 10:13 And again, to another, that he may prophesy concerning all things; 14 And again, to another, the beholding of angels and ministering spirits;
15 And again, to another, all kinds of tongues; 16 And again, to another, the interpretation of languages and of divers kinds of tongues.
Mormon 9:7 ...that there are no revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor healing, nor speaking with tongues, and the interpretation of tongues...
III Nephi 29:6 ...by prophecy, or by gifts, or by tongues, or by healings, or by the power of the Holy Ghost!
Alma 9:21 Having been visited by the Spirit of God; having conversed with angels, and having been spoken unto by the voice of the Lord; and having the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and also many gifts, the gift of speaking with tongues, and the gift of preaching, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the gift of translation...
I Corinthians 12:31 ...and yet show I unto you a more excellent way. Ether 12:11 ...God prepared a more excellent way...

This quotation in Alma 9:21 is interesting, because it occurs prior to the coming of Christ. The remainder of the Corinthians quotations occur in New Testament times, and thus a tenuous case could be made for the theory that some parts of the New Testament may have made their way to the New World.

The Treatise on Faith, Hope and Charity

Faith, Hope and Charity in the Book of Moroni

Again, the book of Moroni contains some extensive quotes from First Corinthians. In this case, the quotations come from chapter 13 of I Corinthians.

Moroni 7:45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. I Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Again, the attributes of charity are listed in the same order in both passages, using the same language. In fact, there are several more references to I Corinthians 13 in Moroni 7.

I Corinthians 13:3 ...and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Moroni 7:6 ...except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.
I Corinthians 13:2 ...and have not charity, I am nothing. Moroni 7:44 ... for if he have not charity he is nothing...
Moroni 7:46 ... if ye have not charity, ye are nothing...

Moroni 7:46 also quotes two other verses from I Corinthians 13.

Moroni 7:46 ...for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail... I Corinthians 13:8 Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail...
I Corinthians 13:13 ...but the greatest of these [is] charity.

Finally, I Corinthians 13:13 is quoted three times in the book of Moroni.

I Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity. Moroni 7:1 ...which he spake concerning faith, hope, and charity...
Moroni 8:14 ...for he hath neither faith, hope, nor charity...
Moroni 10:20 ...there must be faith...there must also be hope...there must also be charity.

Faith, Hope and Charity outside of the Book of Moroni

There are four references to I Corinthians 13 outside of the book of Moroni. Three of these occur in Old Testament times.

I Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three... Ether 12:28 ...I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me...
Alma 7:24 And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity...
I Corinthians 13:2 ...and have not charity, I am nothing. II Nephi 26:30 ...that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing...
I Corinthians 13:1 ...Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels... II Nephi 31:13 ..and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels...
II Nephi 31:14 ...yea, even with the tongue of angels...
II Nephi 32:2 ...ye could speak with the tongue of angels?

The two quotations from II Nephi are interesting. Since there is good evidence that I Nephi to Words of Mormon were translated last (i.e. after Moroni), the I Corinthians passage from Moroni would still have been relatively fresh in Smith's mind when he came to II Nephi.

The KJV and Charity

The translators of the King James Version chose to render the Greek word 'agape' as 'charity' in I Corinthians 13. Elsewhere in the New Testament, the word is consistently rendered 'love'. In the light of this fact, it is significant that not only does the Book of Mormon use the word 'charity' for 'love', but also that Smith seemed to feel the need to explain this fact.

Ether 12:34 And now I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity...
Moroni 7:47 But charity is the pure love of Christ...
Moroni 8:17 And I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love...
II Nephi 26:30 ...all men should have charity, which charity is love...

The Treatise on the Resurrection

I Corinthians 15 contains a fairly famous treatment of the resurrection. It seems that when Joseph Smith treated the same subject in the Book of Mormon, he drew from this same passage.

Mosiah and the Resurrection

Consider Mosiah chapter 16. In this chapter, there are at least four references to Corinthians.

Mosiah 16:7-8,10 And if Christ had not risen from the dead...and that death should have no sting...therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ...Even this mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruption shall put on incorruption... I Corinthians 15:14,53-55 And if Christ be not risen, then [is] our preaching vain...O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory?...Death is swallowed up in victory...For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality.

Notice how these quotations are clustered. Three consecutive verses from I Corinthians (53 to 55) are quoted in just four verses of Mosiah (7 to 10). This increases the probability that I Corinthians was the source for this passage.

Mosiah 5 also contains a reference to I Corinthians 15.

Mosiah 5:15 Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works... I Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord...

What is interesting about this passage is that it contains no reference to the Resurrection, but is found in the same chapter as Paul's treatise on the subject (in fact, just a few verses after the text that inspired Mosiah 16). Since versification of the New Testament did not occur until several hundred years into the first millennium, this, again, increases the probability that Smith was inspired by a later English translation of the New Testament.

Alma and the Resurrection

The book of Alma also contains a number of references to I Corinthians 15.

I Corinthians 15:53-55 ...O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory?...Death is swallowed up in victory...For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. Alma 5:15 ...and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption...
Alma 12:20 ...that man should rise from the dead and be changed from this mortal to an immortal state...
Alma 22:14 ...that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory...
Alma 40:2 ...that this mortal does not put on immortality, this corruption does not put on incorruption...
Alma 41:4 ...mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption...

Mormon and the Resurrection

I Corinthians 15:53-55 ...O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory?...Death is swallowed up in victory...For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. Mormon 6:21: And the day soon cometh that your mortal must put on immortality, and these bodies which are now moldering in corruption must soon become incorruptible bodies...
Mormon 7:5: ...whereby he hath gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up.

Other Resurrection References

Corinthians 15:55 ...For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. Enos 1:27: ...in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality...
II Nephi 9:7: ...this corruption could not put on incorruption...
I Corinthians 15:52: ...in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump...and we shall be changed. III Nephi 28:8: ...ye shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality...

Note that Mormon 9:13 also has a reference to a trumpet in the context of the Resurrection.

Firm and Steadfast

I Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
I Corinthians 16:13 ...stand fast in the faith...
I Nephi 2:10 ...firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!
Mosiah 5:15 Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works...
Alma 1:25 Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were steadfast and immovable...
III Nephi 6:14 ...for they were firm, and steadfast, and immovable...

Conclusion

It is evident that the Book of Mormon contains extensive quotes from the book of First Corinthians. It is also evident that these quotes were taken from the King James Version of the text. One can also see that these quotes, in most places, are woven into the narrative of the Book of Mormon.

It should also be noted that First Corinthians is quoted in the Book of Mormon in both Old and New Testament times, by a number of different characters. This lends credence to the theory that there was only one author of the Book of Mormon, and that this author was familiar with the King James Version of the New Testament.


Contents Copyright 1997 Curt van den Heuvel

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