Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


Modern Church, Translations of the Book of Mormon


The complete Book of Mormon has been translated into Japanese no fewer than three times. The first translation was done by a young American missionary, Alma O. Taylor, the second by Sat Tatsui, the first native Japanese person to undertake the challenge, and the third after World War II by a committee appointed by the First Presidency. The challenges of translating concepts such as God, Spirit, or atonement into a language that shares no linguistic or cultural commonalities with the language of the inspired translation of the Book of Mormon are overwhelming. When attempting to communicate in a culture that does not acknowledge supreme deity or the kinship connection between God and man or life after death, a simple concept such as damnation can be challenging to convey. In addition, dramatic changes have occurred in the Japanese language over past century. The written Japanese language has changed with a rapidity that is unfathomable in English.