Denver Snuffer’s Alma 34:34 change

Denver seems to modify his talks when he publishes the transcripts. He did this with his Things to Keep us Awake at Night talk in St George also. Instead of doing an announcement of a revelation from God of how to change the scriptures, he slipped it into his transcript of his talk. One would think that a revelation from God would deserve at a minimum it’s own post. Where it is right now, one has to read through a transcript they might have already listened to, and not inclined to read it, as we all have busy lives and don’t necessarily have time to read a transcript of a talk we have already listened to. I don’t know about you but I have lots I want to research to understand more fully, and blog posts I want to write, but I am only one man, and have to prioritize what I do.

One thing to keep in mind this new scripture project is changing how scriptures are referenced. In the LDS version of the scriptures the verse he is referencing is Alma 34:34, in the new scriptures project it is Alma 13 I don’t know the sentence number, as the project is not doing verses.

Here is what is stated on page 10 of the transcript “Original text is shown below in black print, and revised replacement text in red print and cross-out showing deletions revealed by the Lord: “.

Here is this proposed changed on page 11.

Alma 13:
…that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.
…the same spirit you hearken to obey while living in the flesh shall, upon your death, have the same power to influence you to hearken unto that spirit in the next life.

Here is the full verse from LDS website.

Alma 34:34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.

To start off with I am grateful for Royal Skousen’s work with the original and printer’s manuscripts in addition with his work with the different versions of the Book of Mormon. Here is a series of YouTube videos of him talking about the project: The Original and Printer’s Manuscripts . I believe any serious student of the Book of Mormon should be referencing this project. My favorite edition of the Book of Mormon is the one he put out, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text because he has but in much effort into restoring the text to what was revealed and doing his best to remove the errors that crept in with the publishing processes. Keep in mind even today with the use of computers errors still creep in things that are published today. Back when the Book of Mormon was first published the process was much more manual than today, and thus more prone for mistakes. In addition the printing press took more liberties than they do today.

In addition to printing The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text, other books have been printed from this project, including Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon . One thing that this series of books does at times is tells us if a specific version of the text was found on the original manuscript. We don’t always know because only a portion of the original manuscript has survived.

The reason I bring up Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon is because the book dealing with Alma 21-55 has an interesting statement regarding Alma 34:34. On page 288 it states that words that Denver’s change removes are on the original manuscript. I believe many of know of stories how Joseph Smith was not able to continue receiving more of the Book of Mormon till what was written down had the correct words. Here is highlight of what is said on page 288, I recommend going to the site and read everything for Alma 34:34.

Alma 34:34
for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life
that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world
The original manuscript is extant here and has the plural ‘your bodies’ in the earlier clause but ‘your body’ in the later clause. Meanwhile, this same passage twice uses the singular ‘that same spirit’. Amulek here is speaking to many people, which might explain the plural use of ‘your bodies’, but one wonders about the lack of consistency, especially since the otherwise identical phraseology ‘possess your body/bodies’ is used each time. And if there is an error here, we wonder which reading is correct, the singular body or the plural bodies.”

The text goes on and shows examples of mixing pluralities.

For those who are like me and are not academic scholars the word extant means: (especially of a document) still in existence; surviving.

No matter what you think of Denver’s change of Alma 34:34 it is removing words that are confirmed to be on the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon. I believe one needs to ask if the words on the original manuscript are the words that the Lord wants in the Book of Mormon. I believe the answer to that question is yes.

It is also interesting to note that the word NEXT is only in the Book of Mormon twice, not including this change. For those interested in how the ancients studied the scriptures, part of it is look at how the same word is used in other places in the scriptures to gain insights in what that word means. I also do this. I have a digital version of the Book of Mormon that I search through on a regular basis. Here are the two verses I found with the word NEXT in them.

Alma 49:12 Therefore they retreated into the wilderness, and took their camp and marched towards the land of Noah, supposing that to be the NEXT best place for them to come against the Nephites.

Alma 58:1 And behold, now it came to pass that our NEXT object was to obtain the city of Manti; but behold, there was no way that we could lead them out of the city by our small bands. For behold, they remembered that which we had hitherto done; therefore we could not decoy them away from their strongholds.

In Alma 58:1 NEXT is used with object, “NEXT object”, this to mean sounds like a goal. And in fact if you replace “NEXT object” with goal in this verse it makes sense. “And behold, now it came to pass that our [goal] was to obtain the city of Manti;” In Alma 49:12 doing a simple substitution with the word goal does not make sense in English. But it is interesting to note that the verse is talking about the goal of the Lamanites and their plan to battle the Nephites to bring them to bondage or to slay them according to their pleasure, see Alma 49:7. In Alma 49:12 it seems the Lamanites are going from plan A to plan B in todays lingo because of the Lamanites disappointment that the Nephites rebuilt the city of Ammonihah with security in mind and it would not be an easy prey for them as they had hoped, see Alma 49:1-9. We can do a substitution of “NEXT” with plan in Alma 49:12 and it makes sense. “supposing that to be the [best plan] for them to come against the Nephites.” We can do the same thing with Alma 58:1 also, “And behold, now it came to pass that our [plan] was to obtain the city of Manti;”. Plan and goal are very simular words. As a plan is a goal with action steps.

The word LIFE is used 143 times in the Book of Mormon. I put the complete list in my BoM verses with the word life post because there are so many of them. And none of them have the phrase “next life” as in Denver’s modification of Alma 34:34, as may be already obvious as we just looked at the only two verses that have the word NEXT in them in the Book of Mormon.

Two common themes with the word life with these verses are mortal life and eternal life endlessly with God. Please look at this complete list I prepared and come to your own conclusions. Below are a few of my favorites:

1 Nephi 14:7 … to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal …
1 Nephi 15:28 … which separated the wicked from the tree of life …
2 Nephi 2:27 … free to choose liberty and eternal life …
2 Nephi 2:8 … who layeth down his life according to the flesh …
2 Nephi 9:15 … passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal …
Mosiah 15:25 And little children also have eternal life.
Mosiah 16:9 … yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.
Alma 12:21 … first parents should enter and partake of the fruit of the tree of life, and live forever …
Alma 12:26 … partaken of the tree of life they would have been forever miserable, having no preparatory state …
Alma 32:41 … and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.
3 Nephi 14:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
3 Nephi 15:9 … for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.
Moroni 7:41 … be raised unto life eternal …

The phrase “ETERNAL WORLD” is in the Book of Mormon three times including Alma 34:34. Here are the other two verses, along with Alma 34:34 again so you don’t have to scroll to review it again.

Alma 3:26 And in one year were thousands and tens of thousands of souls sent to the ETERNAL WORLD, that they might reap their rewards according to their works, whether they were good or whether they were bad, to reap eternal happiness or eternal misery, according to the spirit which they listed to obey, whether it be a good spirit or a bad one.

Alma 34:34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that ETERNAL WORLD.

Alma 48:23 Now, they were sorry to take up arms against the Lamanites, because they did not delight in the shedding of blood; yea, and this was not all—they were sorry to be the means of sending so many of their brethren out of this world into an ETERNAL WORLD, unprepared to meet their God.

In all three verses “ETERNAL WORLD” is referring to place we go to after we die and are judged, whether it is a place of eternal happiness or eternal misery depends on what we do in this life. Each verse brings up ideas that deal with being judged of God. In the plan of salvation after we die we are judged of our works and then we go to a kingdom based on how we lived mortality according to God’s words.

Alma 3:26 … that they might reap their rewards according to their works … according to the spirit which they listed to obey, whether it be a good spirit or a bad one.
Alma 34:34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. …
Alma 48:23 .. unprepared to meet their God.

I believe it is safe to say that Denver is replacing “eternal world” with “next life”. Why do I say that, well for one the are both the last two words of the sentences, in addition they are both what the sentences are leading up to. “Next life” can be interpreted in a multitude of was depending on what your back ground is.

Perhaps it is the ETERNAL WORLD because we will not leave it, in that we will be there forever?

Here is how an Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon defines eternal when it is used to describe the future, as these three Book of Mormon verses do.

1) for ever, always
2) continuous existence, perpetual
3) everlasting, indefinite or unending future, eternity

It is also interesting to note at the bottom of the page it shows the various ways the original word was translated and next to it the number of times it was translated that way in the King James version of the Bible. And this Hebrew word was translated into the English word “WORLD” 4 times. Which I believe strengthens the cause of “ETERNAL WORLD” vs “NEXT LIFE”.

Something to keep in mind I did try to find the phrase “NEXT LIFE” in the Bible, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, and was not able to find any time in those scriptures that the phrase “NEXT LIFE” was used. I do not have all these texts in searchable format myself so I was relying on other websites in addition to https://www.lds.org/ .

In the original Alma 34:34 I see poetry contrasting mortality with immortality. I may be reading into it too much, but it is very common in scriptures to contrast two opposite ideas with each other.

Alma 34:34
that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time ye go out of this life [mortality/death],
that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world [immortality/no more separation of the spirit and physical body].

It is helpful in understand any scriptural verses to know what is going on before the verse and after it as they give context of what is being said. Below is a quick summary of most of the verses in Alma 34.

8) transgressions, atonement, sins
9) atonement is necessary
10) eternal sacrifice
11) law, atonement
12) law, infinite atonement, sins
13) sacrifice, stop shedding of blood, fulfilled
14) point us to the Son of God
15) believe on his name, bowels of mercy which overpowerth justice, repent
16) mercy satisfy justice, need to repent, redemption
17) repent to receive mercy when you call upon his name
18) cry for mercy
19) be humbly, pray
20) cry unto him while working
21) cry unto him everywhere
22) cry for protection
23) cry against the devil
24) cry over what you do
25) cry to receive increase
26) pour out your soul
27) look to the Lord
28) help the poor
29) be charitable or be of no worth
30) show fruits of repentance
31) repent now if you want salvation
32) now is the time to prepare to meet God
33) do not procrastinate repentance to prepare for eternity
35) procrastinate, subjected to the devil, final state
36) God will be with the righteous, blood of the Lamb
37) work out your salvation before God with fear
38) worship correctly
40) last day
41) rest

I see a lot being said about the final judgement before God, and not putting of the day of our repentance before it is too late aka final judgment. In fact that is how Alma 34:34 even starts.

Alma 34:34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis [of not repenting before judgment day], that I will repent [because we have to repent in mortality see 2 Nephi 2:21, Alma 12:26, Alma 42:2-6], that I will return to my God [live with God eternally see ETERNAL WORD at the end of this verse]. …

2 Nephi 2:21 AND THE DAYS OF THE CHILDREN OF MEN WERE PROLONGED, according to the will of God, THAT THEY MIGHT REPENT WHILE IN THE FLESH; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.

Alma 12:26 And now behold, if it were possible that our first parents could have gone forth and partaken of the tree of life they would have been forever miserable, HAVING NO PREPARATORY STATE; and thus the plan of redemption would have been frustrated, and the word of God would have been void, taking none effect.

As shown in Alma 42 if Adam had become immortal by taking of the fruit of the tree of life before Adam had repented he would have been miserable.

Alma 42
2 Now behold, my son, I will explain this thing unto thee. For behold, after the Lord God sent our first parents forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground, from whence they were taken—yea, he drew out the man, and he placed at the east end of the garden of Eden, cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the tree of life—
3 Now, we see that the man had become as God, knowing good and evil; and lest he should put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever, the Lord God placed cherubim and the flaming sword, that he should not partake of the fruit—
4 And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God.
5 For behold, if Adam had put forth his hand immediately, and partaken of the tree of life, he would have lived forever, according to the word of God, having no space for repentance; yea, and also the word of God would have been void, and the great plan of salvation would have been frustrated.
6 But behold, it was appointed unto man to die—therefore, as they were cut off from the tree of life they should be cut off from the face of the earth—and man became lost forever, yea, they became fallen man.

Not wonder not repenting before the day of judgement is such an awful crisis as stated in Alma 34:34.

And what comes after the final judgement, as also shown in Alma 3:26 and Alma 48:23? It’s the ETERNAL WORLD either a place of eternal happiness or eternal misery depending on what we do with life.

Denver removes the idea of the spirit possessing the body and replaces it with influence.

LDS Alma 34:34 … for that same spirit which doth POSSESS your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to POSSESS your body in that eternal world.

Denver’s Alma 13 … the same spirit you HEARKEN TO OBEY while living in the flesh shall, upon your death, have the same power to INFLUENCE you to HEARKEN unto that spirit in the next life.

Looking at the definition of POSSESS in Webster’s Dictionary 1828 edition I see two main ideas in the definitions of POSSESS, one to occupy and second to influence. As I showed above, I believe part of what is being discussed in Alma 34 is judgement day after we die and the resurrection. Although I do believe that evil spirits can possess our body during mortality, there are examples of Jesus casting out evil spirits in the New Testament, I don’t believe evil spirits can possess our physical bodies after the resurrection. I believe legions of spirits, meaning many, good and bad are trying to influence us for their masters sake either God or Satan. I find it peculiar that Denver has spirit as singular. In addition two accounts in the New Testament talk of multiple evil spirits occupying one physical body, Matthew 8:28-34 and Mark 5:1-17. Particularly is Mark 5:9 “And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.” Notice how it is brought out that many evil spirits were possessing one physical body. If an evil spirit is not influencing you while inside your physical body, I honestly don’t know when they could.

Another concern I have with this change from Denver is I see it makes it easier to use this verse for reincarnation and the various other forms and types of the spirit incarnating again or more simply put the spirit entering a mortal body again. Original Alma 34:34 states “in that eternal world” compared to Denver’s Alma 13 “in the next life”. Denver replaces “eternal world” with “next life”, and many will interpret “next life” to do something with some version of reincarnation.

There are a multitude of scriptures that teach against any form or reincarnation.

2 Nephi 1:14 Awake! and arise from the dust, and hear the words of a trembling parent, whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent GRAVE, FROM WHENCE NO TRAVELER CAN RETURN; a few more days and I go the way of all the earth.

Mosiah 16:9 … yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.

Alma 12:18 Then, I say unto you, they shall be as though there had been no redemption made; for they cannot be redeemed according to God’s justice; and they CANNOT DIE, seeing there is NO MORE CORRUPTION.

Alma 12:45 Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an IMMORTAL BODY, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, THAT THEY CAN DIE NO MORE; THEIR SPIRITS UNITING WITH THEIR BODIES, NEVER TO BE DIVIDED; thus the whole becoming SPIRITUAL AND IMMORTAL, that they can NO MORE see CORRUPTION.

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Abraham 3:26 talks of a first estate and a second estate, not of a third estate or other estates or redoing the second estate.

Abraham 3:26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.

God the Father raised Jesus, contrary to the idea that we need to learn to raise ourselves as some say Jesus raised himself from the dead.

Mormon 7:5 Know ye that ye must come to the knowledge of your fathers, and repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, and that he was slain by the Jews, and BY THE POWER OF THE FATHER HE HATH RISEN, again whereby he hath gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up.

“God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world, and this He has given an assurance of in that He raised up His Son Jesus Christ from the dead—the point on which the hope of all who believe the inspired record is founded for their future happiness and enjoyment; because, “If Christ be not risen,” said Paul to the Corinthians, “your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (see 1 Cor. 15). If the resurrection from the dead be not an important point, or item in our faith, we must confess that we know nothing about it; for if there be no resurrection from the dead, then Christ has not risen; and if Christ has not risen He was not the Son of God; and if He was not the Son of God, there is not nor cannot be a Son of God, if the present book called the Scriptures is true; because the time has gone by when, according to that book, He was to make His appearance. On this subject, however, we are reminded of the words of Peter to the Jewish Sanhedrim, when speaking of Christ, he says that God raised Him from the dead, and we (the apostles) are His witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Ghost, whom God had given to them that obey Him (see Acts 5). So that after the testimony of the Scriptures on this point, the assurance is given by the Holy Ghost, bearing witness to those who obey Him, that Christ Himself has assuredly risen from the dead; and if He has risen from the dead. He will, by His power, bring all men to stand before Him.” Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2:18-19.

The article Nevertheless, Glory be to the Father shows how this is taught in the New Testament.

Here are some other blog posts I have written that touch upon the idea of probation:
BoM scriptures with the word Resurrection in them
Alma 11:45 Corruption
Letter regarding reincarnation
Alma 13:1 FORWARD and THESE