There is evidence that the Biblical passages cited in the Book of Mormon were translated from Hebrew, not copied from the King James Bible.1 Consider the passage from Isaiah 53:4 as quoted in Alma 7:11.
Not only is Alma’s rendering different from the KJV, it’s also different from Matthew’s version:
KJV – Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. (Isaiah 53:4)
Matthew – Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses. (Matthew 8:17)
Alma – He will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. (Alma 7:11)
Masoretic Hebrew – Surely he has borne our pains and sicknesses. (Isaiah 53:4)
There is a question whether the Brass Plates (containing Old Testament books) that Lehi’s family took with them from Israel were written in Hebrew, Egyptian, or both. Based on Alma 7:11, it would appear that at least the book of Isaiah was in Hebrew.
This example refutes Mormon apologists2 who blamed Joseph for the “grammatical errors” in the Book of Mormon. Dr. Royal Skousen refutes that explanation saying Joseph merely dictated an already translated English and those are not grammatical errors.3
This example above supports Skousen and the witnesses of the process – that Joseph never used a Bible, never copied from another source – he read what he saw in the Seer Stone or the Urim and Thummim.
Not only is the Book of Mormon not based on the King James Version, but the King James Version itself is based on an earlier translation, that of William Tyndale:
There is also the possibility that the source for the biblical quotations in the Book of Mormon could come from other English Bibles (namely, ones published prior to the King James Version, beginning with Tyndale’s New Testament [from as early as 1526] and ending with the Geneva Bible and its various editions). Most of the phraseology of the King James Bible is dependent upon previous editions of the English Bible.12 In fact, as part of the critical text project I have discovered evidence (from variation in the use of the definite article the) that the compositors for the King James Bible set type from a minimally edited copy of an earlier edition of the English Bible. In fact, nearly all the English translations during the 1286s and early 1600s were minor revisions. Only Tyndale’s translation (of the New Testament and the first half of the Old Testament) and part of Matthew’s Bible (the second half of the Old Testament, translated by Miles Coverdale) represent fresh translations into English.13 Moreover, nearly all the famous passages for which the King James translation is praised can be found in these early English editions. Consequently, it is not immediately obvious that the passages quoted in the Book of Mormon are strictly from the King James Bible. (Royal Skousen, “Critical Methodology and the Text of the Book of Mormon,” FARMS Review: Volume – 6, Issue – 1, Pages: 121-44)
Time and extensive scholastic scrutiny have judged Tyndale the most gifted of the three translators. Dr Westcott (in his History of the English Bible) states that “The history of our English Bible begins with the work of Tyndale and not with that of Wycliffe.” The quality of his translations has also stood the test of time, coming relatively intact even into modern versions of the Bible. A. S. Herbert, Bible cataloguer, says of the Matthew Bible, “this version, which welds together the best work of Tyndale and Coverdale, is generally considered to be the real primary version of our English Bible” upon which later editions were based, including the Geneva Bible and King James Version. Professor David Daniell recounts that, “New Testament scholars Jon Nielson and Royal Skousen observed that previous estimates of Tyndale’s contribution to the KJV ‘have run from a high of up to 90% (Westcott) to a low of 18% (Butterworth)’. By a statistically accurate and appropriate method of sampling, based on eighteen portions of the Bible, they concluded that for the New Testament Tyndale’s contribution is about 83% of the text, and in the Old Testament 76%.“. Thus the Matthew Bible, though largely unrecognized, significantly shaped and influenced English Bible versions in the centuries that followed its first appearance. (Wikipedia 5/2/10)
Source: Study Light
1The above information was derived from “The Hebrew Text of Alma 7:11” by Thomas A. Wayment in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 1, Issue 1, 2005, pp. 98-103.