Question:

I read the claim recently that all of the "And it came to pass" phrases in the Book of Mormon are a non-issue because the Greek rendering of that phrase appears with as much frequency in the original Biblical record, and the editors of the King James version chose to remove them. Is this the case? The preacher at my church knew nothing about that, but I thought I'd check with you before I repeated it.


Answer:

It is true that the language used in the Book of Mormon was heavily influenced by the King James Version, but the result was something that was never used by people. It is a blend of the 1800's style of speaking with the 1600's style.

The phrase "it came to pass" in English has been replaced with "and then" or "eventually" or "then one day," but it doesn't mean the phrase itself is meaningless. The New King James Version uses it 180 times. It was more popular in the King James Version which used it 457 times. But you can tell it has faded out of our language. The New American Standard only uses it five times and the New International Version only uses it twice.

The phrase is not a literal rendering of any Hebrew or Greek phrase. Instead, a variety of Hebrew and Greek words which indicate time order are all translated to this phrase. Some examples from Hebrew are bow (to attain) and qets yowm (after days). But in many of the King James and New King James usage, the phrase was added in for clarity. There is no Hebrew or Greek words behind its use. The Greek ginomai (to cause to be) is the one the King James and New King James translates as "it came to pass." Newer translations select less archaic forms.

So the argument is wrong unless someone wants to argue that all 636 uses of ginomai in the New Testament should have all been translated "it came to pass." Definitely the translators of the various English translations did not remove the phrase. The Greek word was translated to English in a variety of ways depending on the context, as typically happens when you go from one language to another.

But as a point against the Book of Mormon, it isn't worth using beyond pointing out that it used phrases not typically used by people living in the 1800's.