Why reading the Book of Mormon in two languages provides more insight

The other day, for my scripture study, I came across two verses that caught my interest.

I read my scriptures in French, so I occasionally come across something that’s written different from the English scriptures, and sometimes it provides insight.

The first scripture is Mosiah 26:22:

Car voici, ceci est mon Église; quiconque est baptisé sera baptisé en vue du repentir.

The English translations would be something like, “For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized will be baptized towards (or literally, ‘in vue of’) repenting.”

Now, let’s look at the English version of Mosiah 26:22:

For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto repentance.

Did you notice that? There is a nuance missing (or at least quite hidden) in the English version. In the French version, those who are baptized do so while having their eyes set on repentance. I like this translation. As I have argued many times before, I am concerned that many in our church seem to focus so much on baptism that the other three first principles and ordinances of the gospel seem to get forgotten or minimized.

I also like that the French version focuses on our actions (repenting) rather than the process (repentance); I think that makes it more personal.

The other scripture was just two verses later:

Car voici, c’est de mon nom qu’ils sont appelés; et s’ils me connaissent, ils ressusciteront et auront éternellement une place à ma droite.

The English translation would be something like, “For behold, it’s of my name that they are called; and if they know me, they will be resurrected and will have eternally a place at/on my right.”

Here’s what the English version actually says:

For behold, in my name are they called; and if they know me they shall come forth, and shall have a place eternally at my right hand.

Like the previous verse I discussed, they are similar, but there was one main difference I wanted to point out.

The phrase that specifically stuck out was “if they know me”. In French, there are two (most common) words for “to know”: savoir and connaître. The first is what most people would use when translating “I know” into French. The second, connaître, is a more intimate word. When you say je connais, you’re saying that you know something very familiarly. Compare that with je sais, which just means that you know (of) that thing.

In this case, the French translation seems to indicate that we must know the Lord intimately or familiarly in order to receive a place on his right hand. This nuance is lost in the English version, and I believe it changes how we should approach the Lord in our prayers and how we should study our scriptures.

2 thoughts on “Why reading the Book of Mormon in two languages provides more insight”

  1. One positive of reading the Book of Mormon in another language is that it requires us to perform a close reading of the text. Something we may not do in if reading in our native tongue.

    What is gained may also be related to the skill and inspiration of the translator. A translator needs the influence of the Holy Ghost to assist in ensuring that the proper spirit and message of the original is transmotted.

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