A Surprise in Alma 7:11

Thomas Wayment’s “The Hebrew Text of Alma 7:11” in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14/1 (2005) makes a surprising observation (the link is to the PDF file — there is also an HTML version for faster loading of the text). Alma quotes a small phrase from the brass plates, and the quoted passage turns out to be Isaiah 53:4. But it doesn’t follow the KJV for Isaiah. It doesn’t follow the KJV in Matthew when Christ quotes the same line. It doesn’t follow the translation given in the Septuagint. But it does rather precisely follow what the Hebrew text has. One tiny little detail, but rich in significance.

Masoretic Hebrew: Surely he has borne our pains and sicknesses (MT ʾākēn ḥôlāyēnû hūʾ nāśāʾ ūmakʾōbênû sebālām)

LXX: Thus he bears our sins and our pains (LXX outōs tas amartias ēmōn ferei kai peri ēmōn odunatai)

Isaiah 53:4 KJV: Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows

Alma 7:11: he will take upon him the pains and sicknesses of his people

Matthew 8:17 KJV: Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses (autos tas astheneias ēmōn elaben kai tas nosous ebastasen)

Compare to Alma 7:11: “he will take upon him the pains and sicknesses of his people.”

While the KJV seems to be used heavily when it is “good enough” to keep
things familiar to the audience, Hebraic subtleties come through in many
cases that are difficult to explain with the theory of Joseph as the
author of the text.

There’s always more than meets the eye in the Book of Mormon, waiting for the open-minded reader to explore and discover.

Author: Jeff Lindsay

6 thoughts on “A Surprise in Alma 7:11

  1. Just curious, Jeff–isn't the scholarly consensus that Isaiah 53:4, as part of Deutero-Isaiah, was written during the Babylonian exile?

    How then could it be quoted in the brass plates before the exile?

    — OK

  2. Scholarly consensus does not mean evidence.

    How many scholars are in agreement to form the scholarly consensus, and who are the actual scholars involved who make up the scholarly consensus?

  3. Anon 12:10, the scholarly consensus is a widespread agreement about the strength of the evidence. For a brief overview of that evidence, check out what FAIR has to say. Or read any introductory textbook on the Bible.

    — OK

  4. … Do you realize that your link leads to an article that states there are scholars who are pointing out that the multiple author Isaiah theory is probably incorrect?

  5. Yes, Anon 12:47, I do realize that. The article also lays out the consensus position pretty well, and as it's a pro-Mormon source I thought it would be a good idea to link to it instead of giving one of those "anti-Mormon links" that are "frowned upon" here. In any event I'm not interested in what FAIR has to say, I'm interested in what Jeff has to say.

    — OK

  6. Yes, Isaiah 53 is widely viewed as being from the period of the Exile. There are Bible scholars who dispute the Deutero-Isaiah theory and question the evidence for a late Isaiah 53. It's an issue I've discussed elsewhere here and in some articles at MormonInterpreter.com. There is a reasonable case for not accepting what many modern scholars propose..

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