Book of Mormon/Evidences/Hebraisms/Sami Hanna on the Book of Mormon
This page is based on an answer to a question submitted to the FAIR web site, or a frequently asked question.
I have read a talk written by Elder Russell M. Nelson in which he discusses a friend of his who translated the Book of Mormon back into Arabic. What are the facts behind this story and the talk?
At one time Elder Nelson had a neighbor named Sami Hanna, who was an Arabic scholar and a member of the Church. Based on his knowledge of Arabic and his experience translating the Book of Mormon into Arabic, Sami thought there were numerous things in the Book of Mormon text that were consistent with a Semitic original of that book.
Elder Nelson has alluded to Sami a few times in talks, as he has to others of his extensive network of friends who can read Hebrew. But he has never given a talk specifically on Sami. The internet article that circulates under his name was not written by Elder Nelson.
According to Sami's son, Mark, Sami left the Church some time ago and is now some sort of a fundamentalist Christian. He now repudiates his former comments on the Book of Mormon.
Such a repudiation is not, however, terribly significant. Sami's material on the Book of Mormon was never a part of mainstream LDS scholarship on the subject. It was linguistically naive in a number of important respects.
There is an extensive literature dealing with Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon. A good introductory article is John Tvedtnes, "Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon: A Preliminary Survey," Brigham Young University Studies 11 no. 1 (Autumn 1970), 50–60.*
- [note] Russell M. Nelson, "A Treasured Testament," Ensign, July 1993. off-site
- [note] There are copies of the spurious transcript on various web sites. Here is an example of one near the top of the Google search rankings: off-site
- [note] A copy of Mark Hannah's email regarding his father is available here: Template:Like
- [note] John A Tvedtnes, "Little Known Evidences of the Book of Mormon," FARMS Review of Books 2/1 (1990): 258–259. off-site The material relating to Hanna starts about halfway down.