The following is from A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, by Daniel H. Ludlow, Deseret Book, 1976.
2 Nephi chapters 12-24 The so-called “Isaiah problem” of the Book of Mormon
The early prophets of the Book of Mormon frequently quoted form the writings of Isaiah that appeared on the brass plates of Laban. (1 Nephi 5:11-13; 19:21-23.) Of the 433 verses of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon, 199 verses are word-for-word the same as the corresponding verses in the King James Version of the Old Testament. The so-called Isaiah problem is this: How do Latter-day Saints account for this striking similarity in nearly half of the verses and the differences in the remainder of the verses?
In order to attempt an explanation of this problem, a person should consider the following points. Joseph Smith did not explain in great detail the process used in translating the Book of Mormon; (he was convicted of glass looking, hello??) he merely stated, “through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift and power of God.” (Millennial Star, 18:118.) However, it is quite evident that the process of translation was not automatic; Joseph Smith not only had to exercise faith in the translation procedure, but he also had to put forth mental and spiritual effort. Oliver Cowdery’s unsuccessful attempt to translate indicates clearly that the translation of the Book of Mormon was more than a mechanical process. (See D&C 8:1-3, 10-11; 9:7-9.) (p. 141)
The “more than a mechanical process” was nothing more than what all men must do to commune with God – come with a broken heart and contrite spirit. Here, ten years after Sperry, is Ludlow teaching the same view.
Also, translation is frequently concerned with general ideas rather than specific words; even the best translators do not translate the same material from one language into another word-for-word the same. There appears to be only one answer to explain the word-for-word similarities between the verses of Isaiah in the Bible and the same verses in the Book of Mormon. WHEN JOSEPH SMITH TRANSLATED THE ISAIAH REFERENCES FROM THE SMALL PLATES OF NEPHI, HE EVIDENTLY OPENED THE KING JAMES VERSION OF THE BIBLE AND COMPARED THE IMPRESSION HE HAD RECEIVED IN TRANSLATING WITH THE WORDS OF THE KING JAMES SCHOLARS. IF HIS TRANSLATION WAS ESSENTIALLY THE SAME AS THAT OF THE KING JAMES VERSION, HE APPARENTLY QUOTED THE VERSE FROM THE BIBLE; THEN HIS SCRIBE, OLIVER COWDERY, COPIED IT DOWN. HOWEVER, IF JOSEPH SMITH’S TRANSLATION DID NOT AGREE PRECISELY WITH THAT OF THE KING JAMES SCHOLARS, HE WOULD DICTATE HIS OWN TRANSLATION TO THE SCRIBE. This procedure in translation would account for both the 234 verses of Isaiah that were changed or modified by the Prophet Joseph and the 199 verses taht were translated word-for-word the same. Although some critics might question this procedure of translation, scholars today frequently use this same procedure in translating the biblical manuscripts among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The apologetics got worse. Not a single witness said Joseph copied from the Bible. The real life dynamics of what Ludlow describes would not work anyhow. Joseph had to make his translation first in order to have something to compare with. Thanks to Dr. Skousen, we know Joseph did not own the Bible which the Book of Mormon is similar to:
Yet with the recent finding that the original vocabulary of the text appears to be dated from the 1500s and 1600s (not the 1800s), we now need to consider the possibility that the ungrammaticality of the original text may also date from that earlier period of time, not necessarily from Joseph’s own time and place. Joseph Smith is not the author of the Book of Mormon, nor is he actually the translator. Instead, he was the revelator: through him the Lord revealed the English-language text (by means of the interpreters, later called the Urim and Thummim, and the seer stone). Such a view is consistent, I believe, with Joseph’s use elsewhere of the verb translate to mean ‘transmit’ and the noun translation to mean ‘transmission’ (as in the eighth Article of Faith).
(http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2009/09/12-questions-and-a-book-by-royal-skousen/ See #8; also at:
Back to Ludlow:
JACOB 7:27 The use of the word “adieu”
Some anti-LDS critics of the Book of Mormon have raised the question as to how Jacob could possibly have used such a word as adieu when this word clearly comes from the French language, which was not developed until hundreds of years after the time of Jacob. Such critics evidently overlook the fact that the Book of Mormon is translation literature, and JOSEPH SMITH FELT FREE IN HIS TRANSLATION TO USE ANY WORDS FAMILIAR TO HIMSELF AND HIS READERS THAT WOULD BEST CONVEY THE MEANING OF THE ORIGNIAL AUTHOR. (p. 163)
Why make up theories FOR CRITICS when it won’t sway them after all, but will misguide believers for generations to come? Instead of respecting the first hand accounts of Martin Harris, Emma Smith, or David Whitmer, apologists have dug themselves another hole trying to avoid the witness of David Whitmer. If he was right about this, there is no telling what else he was right about. (See the Anti-Mormon menu.)