Joseph Smith Rejected ‘The Song of Solomon’

In the Pearl of Great Price, Mormons teach (according to Article of Faith #8): We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly…”

I would obviously agree with this. Of course I would want the Bible to be translated correctly. But what Mormons really mean is that they believe the Bible as far as it is “transmitted” (or handed down) correctly. I would agree with this too.

Clyde J. Williams, the Associate Professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU in Provo, Utah, says this unfortunate claim: “A careful examination of the Book of Mormon reveals many significant doctrines not found in the Bible.” (“Plain and Precious Truths Restored,” Ensign, Oct. 2006) This is simply not true. Yet the Book of Mormon claims that the Roman Catholic Church, referred to in the text as  “that great and abominable church,” had “taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. (1 Nephi 13:26) I would agree that the Roman Catholic Church has deviated from the plain and precious truths of scripture throughout the ages, but I firmly believe that the true Church of Jesus Christ has always, always, ALWAYS been here since Christ established it! Even through the Dark Ages and systematic oppression that the Roman Church has committed against those opposed to them in the name of “Christianity,” the true believers did not condone such things.

In Matthew 16:18 (KJV), Jesus says, “…I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Clearly, His Church never failed and the people never went into a complete apostasy, like Mormons claim. Mormon historian, B.H. Roberts declares: “Nothing less than a complete apostasy from the Christian religion would warrant the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (Roberts, History of the Church, volume 1: p. XLII) Since there was no complete apostasy, the LDS Church is not needed!

The Book of Mormon continues to say, “Wherefore, thou seest that after the [Bible] hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God.” (1 Nephi 13:28)

So it is clear in the eyes of Mormonism that the Bible has been corrupted throughout the Church Age. These “plain and precious” things were “taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, and exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.” (1 Nephi 13: 29)

Mormons believe their scriptures that say, “Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible.” (2 Nephi 29:6)

So according to Mormonism, I am a fool for believing we do not need other books of scripture. Mormons say that Bible is not complete because there are lost books mentioned in the Bible that are not in scripture. The LDS Bible Dictionary lists these as the “book of the Wars of the Lord (Numbers 21:14); book of Jasher (Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18); book of the acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41); the book of Samuel the seer, the book of Gad the seer, the book of Nathan the prophet (2 Chronicles 29:29)” just to name a few. Yes, these books are mentioned in the Bible, but it does not mean that they needed to be in the scriptural canon! Not everything quoted or mentioned in the Bible as a reference means it needs to be in the Bible. The Apostle Paul quotes from Greek philosophers. In 1 Corinthians 15:33, Paul quotes from the comedy Thais by the poet Menander, when he said, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.'” In Acts 17:28, Paul quotes the poets Aratus and Cleanthes, but this does not mean we should put those poets’ writings into scripture as if they were lost from the Bible!!

Plainly speaking, we have everything in the Bible that we need as scripture!

The irony behind all of this is that even though the Mormon Church blames the Bible for not being complete, Joseph Smith himself had an issue with a book that was already in the Bible! According to the LDS Church’s website, on “The Guide to the Scriptures,” it says this about the Song of Solomon: “A book in the Old Testament. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the Song of Solomon is not an inspired writing.”

The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) manuscript also states that “the Songs of Solomon are not inspired writings.” The Song of Solomon is completely left out of Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible! Yet The Song of Solomon text remains in the LDS King James Version of the Bible!

In Jewish tradition, Rabbi Akiva Ben Joseph (c. 45-135 AD) declared, “Heaven forbid that any man in Israel ever disputed that the Song of Songs is holy. For the whole world is not worth the day on which the Song of Songs was given to Israel, for all the Writings are holy and the Song of Songs is holy of holies.” (Mishnah Yadayim 3:5).

Joseph F. McConkie said the following when he was an associate professor of ancient scripture at BYU: “The books I will review are Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. The latter three of these books merit little more than a passing observation. All scripture is not of equal worth and these books fall far short of the spiritual power contained in some of their companion volumes.” (Joseph F. McConkie, “Joseph Smith and the Poetic Writings,” in The Joseph Smith Translation: The Restoration of Plain and Precious Truths, ed. Monte S. Nyman and Robert L. Millet (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1985), 103–20.) Speaking of the Song of Solomon, McConkie says, “the Song of Solomon does not give forth light nor is there a single spiritual truth to be found in it.” (Ibid)

Wow…

He said that “all scripture is not of equal worth” and that some books fall short of the spiritual power that other books have! That is wrong! What does the Bible have to say about itself? 2 Timothy 3:16 (NASB) teaches us that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…” Romans 15:4 (NIV) says, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

Yes, Song of Solomon is filled with descriptions of romantic and erotic love between a husband and wife. So what? This gives a description of how spiced up a married couple can be for each other! God made such a love to be shared for a married man and woman, and only a married man and woman! Song of Solomon is also allegorical and symbolizes how God loves His bride, the Church.

I find it very ironic that Joseph Smith found those writings to be too pornographic and erotic to be in his version of the Bible, yet he did not manage to stop himself from taking young girls as wives (while he was already married to his first wife, Emma). 7 of his wives were under the age of 18 when he married them. Fanny Alger was Smith’s 16-year old housekeeper that Joseph had an affair with, and Oliver Cowdery, one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, said the following of Joseph’s affair: it was a “dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger’s… in which I strictly declared that I had never deserted from the truth in the matter, and as I supposed was admitted by himself.” (Oliver Cowdery to Warren A. Cowdery, January 21, 1838; quoted in Richard Bushman,  Rough Stone Rolling, 323-24.)

If there are really books that should be in the Bible that are not, why don’t the Mormon prophets add them into the biblical canon?

If those books cannot be found, why don’t the Mormon prophets ask God for inspiration so they can receive those books?

The Song of Solomon deserves its ranking as one of the poetic scriptural books in the Bible. Not only that, but the Bible can be and must be trusted. If we cannot trust anything in the Bible, we cannot trust the entire thing. The good news is, we can and should trust the whole thing!

 

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