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Why does the Book of Jacob end with a French word? "Brethren, adieu"? That seems a little out of place to me.
by Jeff Lindsay
Your objection, if I understand it, is that a word from a modern European language occurs in a book claiming ancient Semitic origins (the Book of Jacob was written around 500 B.C.). If we consider the nature of translation, this issue becomes much less troubling. If I wanted to be flippant (a common temptation for me), I could say, "Not only does the translated Book of Mormon have a French word in it, but thousands of English words as well - another language that did not exist in 600 B.C." The Book of Mormon is a translation of an ancient text into a modern language, and the word that best fit the ending Jacob used - some parting expression commending his readers to God - was translated as "adieu" ("to God"), an expression that is used and widely understood in the English speaking world). It is a borrowed word, certainly, but with a nuance that is not matched with "farewell" or "good-bye." Good-bye used to mean much the same - "God be with ye" - but now lacks that meaning.
As a matter of fact, "adieu" has become part of the English language and was listed in common dictionaries in the 1800s and remains listed in most modern English dictionaries. For example, it occurs in Webster's 1828 dictionary, as you can see for yourself, thanks to the Christian Technologies page which offers a search feature for that dictionary.
The objection to the word "adieu" is one of the most common attacks on the Book of Mormon, but it really isn't a problem. Nevertheless, numerous Bible-believing critics have pointed to that word and mocked, but the standard they use to reject the Book of Mormon would also reject the Bible (an irony true of many other common objections). The King James Version of Jeremiah 10:22, for example, uses a French word, "bruit," meaning noise or rumor. "Bruit" is unfamiliar to most English speakers, unlike the commonly used and well-known "adieu." Yikes! How could a French word be in the Bible? At Jeremiah's time (around 600 B.C.), French didn't even exist, so isn't the Bible false? Au contraire, mes amis. Jeremiah didn't write a French word - he wrote something in Hebrew that some translators thought could well be translated by "bruit," a word that had also found its way into English (along with "adieu" and many others).
Many LDS critics continue the "adieu" attack, to my genuine astonishment. It's time we say "Auf wiedersehen" to this argument. And thus, with no further adieu, I bid you adios.
(See The Book of Mormon home page; Response to Criticism home page; Accusatory Questions home page)
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