Monday, August 3, 2015

The Sorenson translation

Officially, the Book of Mormon is published in 110 languages (see here), but they forgot to count one important translation: the Sorenson translation.

Because it is in English, this is a subtle translation, but you know you're reading it if you spot these words and phrases in something that purports to be a quotation from the Book of Mormon:

HEADWATERS (this replaces the term "head" wherever this phrase, "head of Sidon," appears in the text.)

NARROW STRIP OF MOUNTAINOUS WILDERNESS (this replaces the phrase "narrow strip of wilderness" in the text.)

COLUMBUS (this appears in lieu of 1 Ne. 13:12: "a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.")

FLOWS NORTH (this appears in connection with the term "Sidon" wherever it appears.)

The key thing to remember about the Sorenson translation is this:

Anyone who chooses to believe the Sorenson translation will accept the Mesoamerican setting; it’s axiomatic, because Sorenson retranslated the text to fit his geography. 

By contrast, anyone who chooses to believe Joseph Smith’s translation will find it difficult to accept the Mesoamerian setting--but easy to accept the North American setting.

Now you know how to tell which translation of the Book of Mormon you are reading.

(There are a few variations of the Sorenson translation, such as the ones that substitute different directions for the ones in Joseph's translation, but hopefully readers can detect these immediately. The Sorenson translation has been around for 25 years or so, and it is widely quoted, particularly in articles published by FARMS/Maxwell Institute, the Interpreter, BMAF. FAIRMORMON, and others. You'll probably see it quoted in anti-Mormon materials, too, if you read those.)


  1. I agree with what you say about Sorensen. He does subtly manipulate the reader. whether this is done consciously or not only Sorenson could tell us. but disagree that a North American setting is easy to accept.

    1. cumorahmusings, it would have been nice if you had explained your reasonings why you "disagree that a North American setting is easy to accept." But at least you recognize that there are major difficulties with Sorensen's texts.