“Familiar Spirit”

“Familiar Spirit”

Mormons use Isaiah 29:1-14 (quoted in 2 Nephi 26:16) as support for the . But this passage employs the phrase “familiar spirit,” which is used to denote witchcraft each time it is used in the Old Testament.Book of Mormon

Isaiah MormonIn his study of Isaiah 29, Robert Cloward demonstrated that Isaiah’s prophecy originally referred to the people at Jerusalem, while Nephi, in 2 Nephi 27, following his practice of likening Isaiah to his own circumstances (1 Nephi 19:23-24; 2 Nephi 6:5; 11:2, 8), incorporated some of its wording into his own prophecy of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.[i]

The biblical expression “familiar spirit” refers to a ghost and the English King James Version of the Bible has taken great liberty to refer to “them that have familiar spirits” in the sense of mediums, when this seems not to have been intended.[ii] The single Hebrew word is reflected in KJV by the following terms:

“them that have familiar spirits” (Leviticus 19:31; Isaiah 8:19; 19:3)

“those that had familiar spirits” (1 Samuel 28:3)

“those that have familiar spirits” (1 Samuel 28:9)

“such as have familiar spirits” (Leviticus 20:6)

“the workers with familiar spirits” (2 Kings 23:24)

“counsel of one that had a familiar spirit” (1 Chronicles 10:13)

“familiar spirits” (2 Kings 21:6)

“a familiar spirit” (2 Chronicles 33:6)

The addition of words like “those that have familiar” is unwarranted based on the Hebrew text, which should merely say “spirits.”

In Isaiah 29:4, the Hebrew text reads “thy voice shall be as a ghost out of the ground,” and has nothing to do with mediums. The NEB version of the Bible translates it, “ghostlike out of the ground,” while the NIV reads “ghostlike from the earth.”

[i] Robert A. Cloward, “Isaiah 29 and the Book of Mormon,” in Donald W. Parry and John W. Welch, Isaiah in the Book of Mormon (Provo: FARMS, 1998).

[ii] In some passages, the term is incorrectly rendered “familiar spirit(s),” but with other words that make it clear that someone else is consulting that spirit (Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:11; 1 Samuel 28:7-8).