This is an archived copy of a post written by Conflict Of Justice (conflictofjustice.com). Used with permission: Conflict Of Justice may not agree with any alterations made.
“What does the Bible say about adding or subtracting to the scriptures? …’For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.’ – Revelation 22:18(Blue Letter Bible)
Refers To The Book Of Revelation Only
- Specifically Says “This Book Of Prophesy” – John says to not add or subtract from “the words of the book of this prophecy” in verse 19, more specifically translated: “this book of prophecy.” Some of the books in the bible are books of prophecy but others aren’t. Prophecy has always been just one category of scripture–the latter Hebrew Nevi’im prophets. Scholars typically subdivide the category ‘prophetic books’ into major and minor prophets. The Book of Revelation clearly fit the same mold as those Old Testament prophetic books and used much of the same symbolism. So why would John mention this one category of scripture and not all of the other categories if he were referring to all scripture? That’s like looking at a huge parking lot full of all kinds of cars and calling it “this parking lot of Fords.” It doesn’t make sense. He could have just said “all scripture” if that’s what he meant.
- Introduction Refers To Revelation As The “Book” – Compare the introductory and concluding verses of Revelation: Chapter 1 Chapter 22 1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 2. Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. 3. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. 8. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. 11. Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. 7. Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. 10. And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. 12. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 14. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 16. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. 18. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. 20. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. These introductory and concluding verses use the same phrases and talk about the same things. In the introduction, the “book” clearly refers to the Book of Revelation only–he wasn’t writing down the entire bible. Therefore, “this book” in the concluding verses likewise would not be referring to the entire bible.
- Uses Singular Noun Instead Of Plural – The original Greek for “book” in these verses, bibliou, which was a standard roll of papyrus–“a sheet on which something has been written.” It is the same words used in Matthew 19:7 as “a bill of divorcement.” Is a divorce paper like the bible? No, one is a single roll of paper and the other is a collection of books. If John wanted to refer to a collection of books or any document with multiple sheets of paper, which is what the bible has always been, he would have used the word biblia, the plural form. The word bible comes from biblia which is the plural form of bibliou. If the bible was the bibliou being talked about in those Revelation verses, why is it called “bible?” Why not the singular word instead?
- John Wrote Other Scripture After – Early Christian historian Iranaeus dated Revelation to AD 96. John authored his gospel after this in AD 98, and his letters in the New Testament around AD 100. If nobody was supposed to add anything to the bible after Revelation was written why did John himself do it?
- Bible Didn’t Exist Until Later – The bible as a collection of scriptural books was put together many years later. Mainstream Christians say it was assembled by St. Jerome in AD 400, but actually the first assemblage was the Muratorian Canon of AD 170 which missed many of the New Testament books we have today; and then the the Council of Laodicea added all the books we have today except Revelation. It wasn’t until the Council of Hippo years later that Revelation was added. These councils did a remarkable job discerning what should be considered scripture, but how would John have known what would be in the bible when he wrote Revelation? Which council’s determination of what’s supposed to be in the bible are we supposed to go by? Revelation wasn’t even in the bible originally! These were scholars with no priesthood authority, so how would they know what’s not supposed to be added or subtracted from?
- Common Curse At End Of Religious Books – The form of these verses closely resemble a common curse used in many ancient writings, and it would have immediately been recognized by everybody reading it as such. At the end of religious writings, ancient authors frequently warned not to add or change anything in the text in order to preserve the pure truth and spiritual sanctity.
- Few Bible Books Talk About ‘Plagues’ – The verse warns about receiving the “plagues of this book” if the book is altered. But where in the bible does it talk about people in the future receiving plagues, except Revelation?
- Many Scriptures Referenced In Bible Are Not In Bible – The bible text makes reference to dozens of books that are not included as part of the bible. The context of these references makes it clear these are inspired books of scripture too. So then why aren’t they in the bible if the bible contains all scripture that exists? The Book of Jasher, for example, is referenced in Joshua as being a true book of prophecy.
- Deut. 4:2 Says The Same Thing – Several earlier verses in the bible warn against adding or subtracting from what was written, such as Deuteronomy 4:2. If these were referring to scriptures as a whole, does that invalidate the books of the bible written after these verses were written? Well, a mainstream Christian might respond: “This verse referred to all inspired scripture that was written and would be written in the future.” If that is true then we can simply consider the Book of Mormon and other canon in our church to be part of the inspired scripture that these prophets and John foresaw when they warned not to add scripture, couldn’t we?
How Antimormons Subtly Shift The Narrative
Is The Book Of Mormon Inspired Scripture? – It is easy enough to debunk this narrative against the Book of Mormon, but the reason it persists is because of the cunning manner in which Antimormons use it. In the book Reasoning from the Scriptures with Mormons, some professional Antimormons give a step by step guide for how to argue with missionaries. They start out with the Rev. 22:18 verse which they say “Christians often” use to “argue against the idea that God gives additional revelations such as those found in the Book of Mormon.” Then when missionaries point to Deut. 4:2 as proof that this can’t possibly be a valid interpretation, their advice is to next shift the goalposts and switch the issue to whether the Book of Mormon is inspired by God or not. “Ask… For the sake of argument, if the Book of Mormon is not a God-inspired book, but is, in fact, a manmade book, what implications would Deuteronomy 4:2 then have for the Book of Mormon? (This question will help open the door for you to show the Mormon insurmountable problems in the Book of Mormon [see the next chapter]. You will want to prove to the Mormon that the Book of Mormon is not a God-inspired book but a man-made book.)” (Reasoning from the Scriptures with Mormonsby Ron Rhodes, Marian Bodine)
So really what they are doing is arguing a premise that they know is false (some would call that bearing false witness) to deceitfully present a false scriptural case for the bible invalidating the Book of Mormon as revelation from God. It is an illogical trick to pull and they are only fooling themselves, but it is successful because missionary typically argue the case for additional scripture while the issue really is whether it is revealed from God.
Contradictions Between Bible & Book Of Mormon – Don’t be fooled by their shifting goalposts when they start talking about magic stones in a hat. There are several tactics they might use to try to prove the Book of Mormon is fabricated. They might appeal to the peep stone narrative, but because they know a lot less about church history than we do, chances are they will point out alleged contradictions with the bible. Galations 1:6-9 tells us to avoid anyone who preaches “a gospel contrary to the one you have received.” So, they will cherry-pick something that contradicts how they interpret something in the bible. By doing this they harden their false understanding and negate the purpose of the Book of Mormon which is to help us understand the bible correctly. A missionary’s knee-jerk reaction might be to demonstrate using bible verses alone that their understanding is false, but this is ineffective. What we need to demonstrate is that the Book of Mormon helps us understand what the bible is truly saying.
A common contradiction they allege is faith vs. works: the Book of Mormon emphasizes that we are judged by our works while the New Testament being saved by faith. Instead of fighting their understanding of grace in the bible, I have found it effective to explain what the Book of Mormon says about works. We are indeed saved by the grace of Jesus alone, and the Book of Mormon clarifies how we access grace through repentance. We do not throw our hands in the air and ignore our sinful nature, but exercise faith in Jesus Christ to be saved.
Once we have established the Book of Mormon’s role, we can explain that the bible has been modified and taken away from in the Great Apostasy years and requires an additional testament. A good analogy for this is the hinges of a door. A single hinge allows the door to swing open but not very well. It swings all over the place. A second hinge on the opposite end of the door makes the door operate much more smoothly and swing in a fixed single way. These two hinges are of the same size and design, just as the Book of Mormon introduces the same principles and gospel of the bible, and because the witness comes in a different cultural context it helps us understand the ancient messages of the bible which can often be enigmatic due to alien cultural context and textual corruption. Thus, by the mouth of two or three witnesses is truth established. It is curious that mainstream biblical scholars spend so many hours trying to sift through textual corruption to decipher the real meaning yet greet the Book of Mormon’s clarifications with utter dismissal.
What About Joseph Smith’s Changes To The Book Of Revelation?
Rhodes and Bodine suggest later bringing up the Joseph Smith translation of the bible as the real Mormon violation of Revelation 22: “You will want to emphasize that some of the changes Joseph Smith made to the Bible were in the book of Revelation… Joseph Smith’s work, then, brings him under the judgment described in Revelation 22:18-19… What do you think Revelation 22:18-29 tells us in regard to Joseph Smith adding to and subtracting from the book of Revelation? You will also want to emphasize to the Mormon how Scripture attests to its enduring nature. For example, Isaiah 40:8 tells us, ‘The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.’ ” (Reasoning from the Scriptures with Mormonsby Ron Rhodes, Marian Bodine)
Bible Text Has Been Corrupted – That is assuming the exact text we have in our bible today is exactly the pure word of God as uttered by the original prophets, which is just not true. No serious scriptologist would deny that the text has been altered over the years. It’s obvious that it has. Isaiah was talking about the decrees of God and divine truths which indeed to not fade with time, not scriptural preservation. If he were talking about scripture, what happened to the Book of Jasher? That just doesn’t count? Mainstream Christians would argue Jasher was never inspired scripture, but Joshua cited it as true prophecy. The New Testament itself pointed out repeatedly that scripture was being altered already and people were falling into apostasy even as John was writing his books (see Gal. 1:7). Even if scripture were perfectly preserved, translations and the thousands of years between today and the ancient cultural context hinders us from understanding the message. The common mainstream Christian misinterpretation of Rev. 22 is a fine example of this.
Restoring Original Content – If Joseph Smith were not a prophet, then indeed he was altering scripture inappropriately. If Joseph Smith was a prophet, then he was doing what prophets do: restore the original message of Revelation as John wrote it. He was simply “translating” the text back to what originally was there. To say his translation of Revelation is evidence against him is circular logic. He also may have been using the Book of Mormon to clarify the message. Nephi’s apocalyptic vision is very similar to Revelation, and in fact Nephi said the Revelation of John would give us more information about it. It was therefore appropriate for Joseph Smith to make “rod of iron” in Rev 19:15 “the word of his mouth,” as Nephi interpreted the “iron rod” to be “the word of God.” This is not adding to or subtracting from what John wrote but simply prophetic clarification.
The other change Rhodes and Bodine take umbrage with is Rev. 5:6, where the JST changes the slain “Lamb” from “having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God.” He changed it to “having twelve horns and twelve eyes, which are the twelve servants of God.” This is a significant change because it makes it about the twelve apostates rather than the seven churches. In D&C 77, Joseph Smith explained much of the symbolism in Revelation in a question and answer format. He explained that “eyes” are “a representation of light and knowledge, that is, they are full of knowledge.” The horn, of course, represents power. The 24 elders in that chapter–12 for the Old World and 12 for the New World–were “elders who had been faithful in the work of the ministry and were dead; who belonged to the seven churches and then were in the paradise of God.” Mainstream Christian bible commentaries I’ve read give a similar explanation. Well, doesn’t 12 servants then make more sense for Rev 5:6 rather than 7? Who did Christ send into the world to preach the gospel? The 12 apostates or the 7 churches? Who went with the light and knowledge and power of Christ? The apostles. The word for “sent out” in this verse is apostalmeno which has its root in “apostle.” Were the seven churches of that time apostles now? Well, that’s the argument mainstream scholars make to justify 7 rather than 12:
“There is an apostolate of the Spirit as well as an apostolate of the church; and if we adopt the version here which gives the present participle, this spiritual apostolate is being continually exerted; the seven spirits are in process of being sent out by Him who says to this one ‘Go,’ and he goeth; and to the twelve, ‘Go ye into all the world.'”(The New Testament commentary for schools, ed. by C.J. Ellicott)
See where this is going? Now the churches are who have the authority of Christ rather than the twelve apostles. Does Christ as the slain Lamb manifest knowledge and power, “perfect power to execute all the will of God” through the congregations rather than the priesthood key holders? Once you study the great apostasy that devoured Christianity very soon after the apostles’ death you can guess why this verse would have been corrupted. The men who ran those congregations but did not have priesthood authority over the church needed a basis for taking charge. Joseph Smith corrected such alterations that had been added after John authored the book.
Jeremiah Did The Same Thing – This wasn’t the first time a prophet restored corrupted scripture to what it originally was, or even added clarification. Jeremiah wrote an entire book that had been burned by the evil ruler Jehoiakim, and he added more to it. Did Jeremiah deligitimize himself as prophet by adding to it? No. Prophets get to do this because they are prophets. “Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying, Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned. And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the Lord; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast? Therefore thus saith the Lord of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost. And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not. Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the ascribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words.” (Jeremiah 36:27-32)
But Antimormons always cry foul when Joseph Smith does it. They complain that Joseph Smith added to the Doctrine and Covenants after its original printing. An Antimormon mob burned the printing press and trashed the D&C copies, and Joseph Smith then went and revised the D&C transcript to include more detail of previous revelations, such as the role of Peter, James, and John in restoring the priesthood by the laying on of hands. Antimormons call this “gaslighting.” Well, no, that’s just what prophets do. They have the means to provide any inspired content that would be appropriate to provide.
If Joseph Smith hadn’t corrected the corruptions of Revelation in his bible translation, wouldn’t that have put him in violation of John’s warning? Wouldn’t he have been taking away from John’s words by perpetuating a corrupted version?
The Correct Function Of Scripture
It is important to establish what the purpose of scripture is to begin with. Someone who doesn’t critically consider the context of Rev. 22 may consider scripture to be a modern instruction set like a school text book. The kind of complaints I see from Antimormons indicate that many expect scripture to dictate every little behavior and thought, because that after all is how we learn in secular spaces–memorize these answers, select the right bubble, give the opinion in your essay that your teacher wants to hear, etc. But this is not how the scriptures tell us to treat scripture, nor does it make logical sense. When a 2,000 year old text says “do not add to this,” you’ve got to consider the history of restructuring, retranslating, and further alterations that have been made over the years to know how to apply it to a modern context. We are told in 2 Timothy 3 that studying the inspired scriptures help us gain wisdom and faith in Jesus Christ, and teaches us doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction. How do we get this from scripture? The Book of Mormon provides important clarification to this question.
Scripture Judges The People – If you weren’t aware of non-canonical scripture texts like the Book of Enoch you likely wouldn’t be aware that ancient prophets saw modern times and wrote for modern audiences as well as the people of their time. Much of what Joseph Smith restored to the bible is prophets like Abraham and Joseph prophesying of our day. In 2 Nephi 33, Nephi said ancient prophets wrote to provide a means to judge modern people by as well as to judge people of his time by. The Book of Revelation hints at this as it talks about the apostles influencing the entire world and in so doing delivering judgement. Instead of a school textbook, this sounds more like a college course syllabus which the professor uses as a standard to grade everyone by. “And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good. And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness. And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day. And now, my beloved brethren, all those who are of the house of Israel, and all ye ends of the earth, I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until that great day shall come. And you that will not partake of the goodness of God, and respect the words of the Jews, and also my words, and the words which shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the Lamb of God, behold, I bid you an everlasting farewell, for these words shall condemn you at the last day. For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against you at the judgment bar; for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey. Amen.” (2 Nephi 33: 10-15)
A college syllabus does not outline every little thing you need to know for the class tests but gives a detailed overview of what you need to do and learn about in the class. The ancient prophets provided these documents to give us fair warning of what we need to do and learn about in order to pass life’s tests, and each syllabus is appropriate to whichever class receives it. In our modern times with globalism and the modern wonders of communication we are taking lots of classes, not just one.
A Standard To The World – In 2 Nephi 29, we learn that in order to judge the world, scripture is a “standard” to the world. The missionaries handing out Books of Mormon are much like the teacher’s aides passing out the course. As a “standard,” scripture also functions as a means to gather Israel in the last days (see Psalm 60:1-4) It is not just a standard by which to fairly judge us but also military standards around which scattered troops rally. In today’s spiritual warfare how do we tell who is on our side? Scripture is the standard, and there is more than one standard flag. Nephi tells us God provides a standard for each nation and there is more than one standard flag. We recognize it as a functional standard if it brings people to Christ and the true gospel of Christ. Scripture is not limited to one nation’s context, but can be found in a great variety of contexts, and thus compared to see what is standard between them.
Two Sticks United – The comparison to door hinges is quite similar to the symbolism used in Ezekiel 37 to explain how various scripture comes together in these modern days. Mainstream Christian sects say the prophesies in Ezekiel 37 will not be fulfilled until Jesus comes again. But does it actually say this? Each of the prophesies in Ezekiel 37 seem to be happening right now: The movement and uniting of Judah and Joseph from the four quarters of the earth, the restoration of the temple, a new and everlasting covenant of peace, Jesus leading as king and shepherd, and the heathen recognizing the sanctification of Israel. “Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.” (Ezekiel 37:16-17)
The word ets is translated as “stick,” but this is innaccurate. It is the generic word for tree/wood. To translate it as “sticks” makes it more specific than it should be. There is a reason Ezekiel used ets instead of a more specific word. Why not use the word for stick/branch, Zemorah or anaph if that’s he they was referring to? Well, if it is referring to a book like the Book of Mormon, why not use the specific word for ‘book’? The “sticks” in Ezekiel 37 were not intended by Ezekiel to represent only books. The Hebrew word for book, Sepher is a very general term that refers to any kind of written document, anything recorded in a written rather than oral way. Ezekiel had something specifically wooden in mind. The word “roll” also did not fit. Just as megillah derives from the word “to roll”–the motion involved in using it–Ezekiel chose a word that spoke to the function of the object: tree. As we see in 2 Nephi 3, the two ets were to grow like a tree. Ezekiel used a wooden writing object to symbolize the growth of Judah and Joseph like trees, and used the same word ets to refer to both. Ezekiel 37 says to “take”–or bring–one in one hand and the other in the other hand. Then it says to “join them one to another”–or literally: approach one and one to be wood in hand. The Book of Mormon indicates the “sticks” will grow like trees once placed together, but the Ezekiel verse uses imagery of someone doing this in their hands. This is why the KJV translators translated it as “sticks,” because what else could it be? The “sticks” being symbolized, and referred to in 2 Nephi 3, are trees, the two trees uniting and growing together. How do you join trees in your hand? But the “sticks” which symbolizes this in verse 16 of Ezekiel 37 are clearly wooden object that gets written on and for which there was no specific Hebrew word, and therefore they would have been forced to use the generic word “wood”: The wooden tablet.
When someone talked about taking wood, writing on it, and binding it together, the wooden tablet is obviously what they were talking about. In an age before modern paper-making, wooden sheets were a common method for writing. They could have been thin sheets of wood bound together, like the Vindolanda Tablets of AD 85. Or they could be “wax tablets” that had thin layers of wax poured over them to create an easier writing surface. “Another medium for cuneiform inscriptions was writing boards, flat pieces of ivory or wood bound together with hinges… The texts composed on wax writing boards recorded a variety of data compiled over a period of time, including religious and ritual matters, royal reports and orders, registers of people, and astronomical observations. The Mesopotamians depicted the ‘tablet of life’ as a wax-covered board on which the god Nabu recorded the names and deeds of kings and their sons. Some wax boards were attached together by means of hinges to form a ‘book.’ Recent excavation of a shipwreck near Uluburun, on the southwestern coast of Turkey, delivered a rare example of such a book.’” (The Scribes and Scholars of Ancient Mesopotamia, Laurie E. Pearce in Civilizations of the Ancient Near East vol 4)
A common argument skeptics make is that if Ezekiel meant “tablet” he should have used the word for tablet. But again, this would have been an imprecise specific word and the symbolism referring to wood growing together like joined trees would have been lost. The word for tablet, luach, can refer to any kind of material and was used most prominently to refer to the stone tablets of the ten commandments. It was not precisely correct to call this a ‘book’ or a ‘tablet’. Ezekiel used a play on words: wood to symbolize wood, like if someone today in English referred to a piece of wood to symbolize a forest ‘wood.’ Wood tablets were bound with each sheet facing the other in the way verse 17 describes.
Ezekiel’s description of “one wood” and “one wood” being written upon, bound together, and “approaching” each other sounds an awfully lot like the Diptych. The Diptych is two flat plates attached by a hinge so they can close against each other like a book. They were used in ancient times for important royal or religious purposes by Romans, Eastern Orthodox, and Byzantians, and still commonly used as religious displays today. “Later the tablets formed a diptych; that is to say, they were composed of two tablets united by a hing. Closed, they presented two surfaces, plain or ornamented, but without writing; open one could write upon both of the wax-covered inner surfaces.” (Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, 1905)
The two tablets in a Diptych showed comparable scenes, such as the coronation of Virgin Mary vs. the Last Judgement. Artist John Bernhard remarks: “I utilize the diptych venue as a means of further enhancing a past expereince or a ‘deja vu’ perception, making it a new emotional and enlightening experience. The correlation of two images brings out a visual duplicity of resembling forms, an intellectual encounter with a reflection on the readability and the meaning of its subjects.” (John Bernhard, Diptych)
Is this not a perfect discription of Ezekiel’s imagery? One wood tablet for Judah and another wood tablet for Joseph opened and closed against each other to to give a precognative “dejavu perception.” The forms of Judah and Joseph resemble each other and correlate, as they are both tribes of Israel, and the “encounter” suggested by Ezekiel’s art form gives insight on their meaning. Until this point, the Israelites thought of the tribes as just groups within the kingdom, but the diptych added new perceptions:
- Judah and Joseph were to become the most important topographical elements of Israel after the dispersion and in world events at large. The rest of Ezekiel 37 describes how these two nations would affect Israel and the entire world.
- The hinge that binds the two wood tablets suggest the fate of the tribes are connected and hinge upon Judah and Joseph. Once these two tribes finally efface, the other tribes will find their home as well.
- The swinging of the tablets toward each other symbolizes the tribes being taken from among the heathen to their own land. This suggests that the unity of the tribes was what was important, not so much their geographical location, which was a very important reminder for Israel in later years.
- In verse 26, it says God will “place them and multiply them,” much like the imagery of the tribes growing together as trees in 2 Nephi 3. With the two tablets finally closed against each other in the diptych, the ditypch multiplies tablets to include the remaining 10 tribes. “Multiply” could also refer to mass copying, such as the printing press revolution that allows the Book of Mormon to spread across the globe.
Excluding Additional Scripture Is Divisive
You can hear the utter frustration in Nephi’s voice as he reacts to those today who say we don’t need more scripture than what is in the bible: “And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible. But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles? O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people. Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?” (2 Nephi 29:3-6)
Additional scripture complements each other, just as the bible is more powerful by having so many books in it. It’s like a Marvel comic book character obtaining one of the infinity stones and saying he doesn’t need any more infinity stones, unaware of the immense power that comes when they are combined. The power of combined scripture unified is the parallel truths between them. Right now we are in a unique never-before-seen situation where we can make this happen because of modern technology and globalization. Nephi would have loved to quickly look things up on Google instead of almost dying to get the brass plates, because nobody could obtain the various scriptures from around the world until the last century or so. Yet mainstream Christians disregard this important capability and circle their wagons around the bible? An army cannot unify if standard bearers refuse to coordinate with each other and think their flag is the only one in the battle field. God intends various cultures and populations to unite by means of scripture, according to Nephi, Isaiah, and other ancient prophets.
Those who circle the wagons around the bible disregard the people who produced the bible–the Jews. There is the horrible treatment of Jews by mainstream Christian organizations over the years, but I think the main point Nephi was making is how they ignore historical Jewish context. They apply these holy books to a people and time outside of where and when it was written. It reminds me of 19th century Europeans who imported Asian art without having the slightest artistic understanding of it. Oh, but it gets much worse than just taking scriptures out of context! The predecessors to the Jesuits–the conquistadors–committed genocide on Naive American tribes and inflicted their perverted version on the them, unaware that various Native tribes were closer to the Israelite covenants of God than they were! The Natives should have bee teaching the conquistador Europeans! This conquistador mindset of “only my way is right” continues and prevents scattered Israel from uniting. The Christian nature of other cultural traditions and scriptures is so obvious but the most educated archaeologists shut their minds to the possibility. They mock the notion of Israelite ancestry among Native Americans and see anything outside the bible as barbaric primitive heresy in need of conforming to their way.
In Defense Of Clinging To The Bible
Yet I can’t really blame mainstream Christians for circling the wagons around the bible, as that is what has preserved Christianity for so long. Every now and then a new sect shows up and becomes wildly popular for a bit, and then like a match after it has been lit, the sect fades into obscurity while the mainstay churches fiercely clinging to orthodoxy remain. There is a reason Orthodox churches live on, and there is much wisdom to learn from them. In those dark days immediately after the death of the twelve apostles when the seven churches were frantically vying for control, many powerful people were trying to add new scripture and alter existing scripture, and it was easy for them to say: “Well, Revelation 222 is just talking about adding to Revelation, not to all scripture!” It was wise to draw the line and not allow any changes. It’s a lot easier to avoid fake prophets if you don’t allow any prophets. So, the time of prophesy ended and Christianity was placed in a time capsule, and thus preserved it could not fade.
“The very claim that nothing can be added to the bible is itself adding to the bible, because the bible made no such claim.”
Mainstream Christianity Has Altered The Gospel – Perhaps Christianity was like Sleeping Beauty in a state of hibernation waiting for the right circumstances to come along. Things are a lot different than 2,000 years ago and modern prophecy can exist. Nobody ever said prophesy can’t exist today, and nothing in the bible ever said there is no other scripture. I don’t think God wants us to be like an old widow locking herself in an attic and pining for the good old days. And it’s not like nothing was altered is it? Things are a lot different with Orthodox churches than the church Jesus established. Unalterable canon can only helps so much. Corruption has snuck into those orthodox churches anyway. Look at how the Jesuits add to the gospel–maybe not in formal canon but in their social justice programs. The very claim that nothing can be added to the bible is itself adding to the bible, because the bible made no such claim. Look at how the ordinances have been altered, and how the gospel has been altered with veneration of the virgin Mary and saints, child baptism, etc. Part of the effectiveness of mainstream Christian Rev 22 argument is it excuses the massive corruption their sects have themselves introduced and continue to introduce to the gospel.
The Book of Mormon enables the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to avoid this infiltration while mainstream Christians graft in modern philosophical ideologies of equality, progressivism, and social justice. To be clear, when I talk about uniting with other scriptures and cultures I’m not talking about uninspired scripture or worldly philosophies. Even within our church heresy sometimes creeps in. I was surprised to walk into BYU’s art museum and see poetry about Heavenly Mother and other heretical “art.” There is nothing in the scriptures about the nature of Heavenly Mother yet this BYU piece sounded like scripture and made up all sorts of stuff. Agitation for corruption is always going to be heavy and we need to be very stubborn about sticking to orthodox theology. We can’t accept heretical books as scripture, but the Book of Mormon and other scripture actually help us avoid such corruption because we can be more sure about what is inspired or not. We have many more examples of inspired scripture as models to compare against. The hinge is more recognizable and the door swings more smoothly.