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About nealr

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  1. As I already said to the narrator, I never claimed were better qualified than Bokovoy on this issue. I'll also say again, not all our feedback was incorporated. I am not going to go into details about what we disagreed with, but I'd suggest not assuming you know what we did or did not tell him about Isaiah 29. Honestly, at the end of the day, I really don't care if people think Elder Callister should have gotten feedback more better people than us or whatever. I was simply correcting the assertion that Elder Callister didn't have any scholars at all. If people really want to believe we are just apologetic hacks who weren't really qualified to give Elder Callister good advice, that's y'alls prerogative.
  2. Were you this concerned about Welch's particular expertise when you had him write the foreword of Bokovoy's book, Authoring the Old Testament? Welch has more relevant expertise than you seem to think. His actual academic training may not be in biblical studies, but he's spent decades involved in the field at places like SBL, and he has a decent smattering of publications in non-LDS biblical studies venues (more than Bokovoy has, to my knowledge, though I'll admit I may not be aware of all of Bokovoy's more recent publications). I know I've randomly happened upon citations to Welch's work in non-LDS publications much more frequently than I have to Bokovoy, and I've been in the room with big name biblical scholars who had good things to say about him. And Welch was the co-editor of a volume on Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, which included an essay on Isaiah 29 in the Book of Mormon--an essay folks might want to get familiar with before assuming things about what kind of feedback we "apologists" might have given to Elder Callister. I'd think all that constitutes at least some sort of relevant "professional" experience, no? I am not saying Welch is better qualified than Bokovoy, but I would suggest you aren't really giving Welch enough credit.
  3. What does that have to do with anything? Did I say any of us were better qualified than Bokovoy on this issue? I was correcting Robert's mistaken assertion that Elder Callister did not have anyone look at it. That's it. I didn't say we were better than Bokovoy. I did not even say we disagreed with Bokovoy, though you seem to be assuming we did. I have no doubt that if you really want to go line-by-line through Callister's book, you could find a whole host of individuals who might be better equipped to give feedback on individual topics. But I am entirely confident that those of us who were consulted were entirely capable of providing adequate feedback on the gamut of issues Callister discusses in his book, including the topic of Isaiah 29. I'll stress again, that we were candid about our criticisms and things we thought need to be changed or removed. As tends to happen, not all our recommendations were followed. That was Callister's prerogative. Folks who were not involved would do well not to make assumptions about things they simply have no knowledge of.
  4. As a matter of fact, Elder Callister did avail himself to scholarly review and feedback before publication. He met with John W. Welch, Matthew Roper, Stephen Smoot, and myself, and we circulated the draft to a few others. He also received review from Kerry Hull, separate from our involvement. Feedback, including critical review of parts we felt needed to be revised or discarded was provided. I was, frankly, impressed with Elder Callister's humility through the whole process as he listened carefully to what we had to say, asked questions, and even sought out further reading material, which we gladly provided. As tends to happen, not all our feedback was accepted and incorporated into the final product. We could not (and would not, even if we could) force him to make changes, and if he still felt good about including something after discussing it with us, that was his choice. After all, the book ultimately represents why Tad R. Callister believes the Book of Mormon is true, not why I or anybody else thinks so. But whatever else might be said about Elder Callister or the book, he cannot rightly be accused of failing to get informed scholarly feedback.
  5. I've actually spoken with Gee about source criticism recently (August 2018), and I think he tends to be badly misunderstood on this issue. Part of that may just be that he is not communicating clearly in his published works, but in conversation with him it seemed quite clear that he accepts that there are multiple sources that stand behind the Pentateuch, but he thinks the methods of source criticism are flawed, and quite circular really, and rarely give you much external evidence that you can examine and reason with to determine the accuracy of an argument. But in our conversation, he specifically talked about some evidence he had noticed that suggested to him Leviticus was an Exilic or post-exilic composition, and said he was currently searching to see if anybody else had ever pointed that evidence out before. So not only did Gee come across as open and accepting of multiple sources, but he even seemed pretty open to parts being rather late--which surprised me--but he's cautious, and generally skeptical of source critics claims. Now I don't mean to speak for Gee, so take the above for what it is worth. But based on the conversation I had with him August, his thinking didn't seem terribly out of step with some currents in Pentateuchal scholarship right now. A major critic from some corners of academia has been that the DH does not compare well with what we know about how documents were edited, changed, and expanded over time in the ancient Near East, and that we should be looking to those precedents more in our efforts to understand the development of the Torah--rather than relying on modern literary sensibilities. A recent example of this, which from what I've seen has gotten pretty positive reviews, is Joshua Berman's Inconsistencies in the Torah (Oxford, 2018).
  6. For what it's worth, I was not a seminary-aged kid, but a missionary when I first encountered apologetics. It was Daniel Peterson's "What Certain Baptists Think they Know about the Restored Gospel," chalk full of whit and sarcasm and so on. I loved it. It's what got me to track this stuff down after my mission. I really enjoyed it. Eventually I read some of the drier, more dispassionate stuff, but if that's all that there had been available, I probably never would have gotten into this stuff in the first place. Given my current career, I think it's fair to say getting into this stuff has been life-changing. Folks who criticize that style are being (intentionally or not) somewhat elitist, in my view. They've been into the higher-brow academic stuff so long they just don't get that that stuff does not appeal to everybody. Love 'em or hate 'em, popularizing sources are important gateways. Granted not all popularizing methods have to involve satire, sarcasm, etc., but that is one style that often appeals to a broader audience. If it's not what you're into, fine. Dan Peterson freely admits that not every likes that style. He's glad there are others with different writing styles out there also defending the Church to appeal to those with other tastes. This really does not have to be a zero-sum game, where everyone does apologetics the same way.
  7. I am genuinely curious about how much scholarship on the DH you have personally read? I don't profess to be an expert myself, but I've read a couple of different books, from different schools of thought on the DH. I have a few more that I've at least skimmed, and I've tried to survey the field a bit. Brant's insistence on separating out questions about historicity vs. documentary hypothesis are actually quite in-line with the latest thinking on the subject, at least in North American academic circles. The main thesis of Joel Baden's The Composition of the Pentateuch: Renewing the Documentary Hypothesis (Yale, 2012) is that scholars were over-claiming what the hypothesis could prove, and insisting that it really is only a literary solution to a literary problem and that claims about dating, authorship, and historicity must be considered as separate issues altogether. And Baden is no outlier. His book is the single best overview for where things stand among scholars who still hold to the 4-source (J, E, D, P) theory.
  8. If we are seriously discussing the Book of Mormon as a text which records real historical events, and therefore has a geography, then the fact that Joseph received the text from angel and translated it by divine means becomes a given. And that being the case, there is no compelling reason to doubt what virtually all the primary sources about Joseph's conversation with that angel tell us: that he was one of the authors of the text, and said it took place in the Americas.
  9. Actually, for the record, BMAF does not functionally exist anymore. Book of Mormon Central legally took them over in 2016. The BMAF 501(c)3 was then adopted as the non-profit foundation for BMC, to spare us the time of applying separately for a new licence. But the mission statement of BMAF does not reflect the aims and goals of Book of Mormon Central. A certain Heartlander, who will remain nameless, knows all of this, but chooses to continually spread misinformation about the relationship between BMAF and BMC anyway. Also, for the record, nothing about Oliver Cowdery's Letter VII makes me, or anyone else at BMC, unhappy. It's a wonderful primary source on early Church history. But it is not a primary source on Nephite history. On that, it would be a secondary source, and the Book of Mormon itself would be the primary source. As such, we value the Book of Mormon--the primary source--for the subject of Book of Mormon geography above secondary sources like Oliver's letter. This, of course, is sound historiography. For more on Oliver's letters, see here: https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/knowhy/how-are-oliver-cowderys-messenger-and-advocate-letters-to-be-understood-and-used
  10. Does it not look like this when you click on fn. 13? (I've highlighted Tullidge for convenience): Snow is the only one linked to because it's the only one in the Church's archives, but it's not the only one cited. As for the repeated complaint about "late" sources: almost EVERYTHING we know about early polygamy comes from late sources which are polemically motivated one or the other. Be skeptical of the sources all you want, but you can't really knock any history for using them. They're just about all we've got. On the whole, it would be wise to read the note on sources, if you haven't already: https://www.lds.org/languages/eng/content/history/saints-v1/sources-intro You may also find it helpful to check the ~120 topical essays, which would consistute another 500 printed pages if they published it in hard copy, which explore issues in greater depth, talk over some of the ambiguities in the historical record, and provide additional further reading: https://www.lds.org/languages/eng/content/history/topics/adam-ondi-ahman From what you are saying, it sounds like you disagree about the reliability of some of the sources. OK, fine. That's all fine and good. No one I know is denying that there's room for disagreement on such things. You can even disagree with aspects of the story, or the story as a whole. There's room for disagreement on all of those fronts. But that's not the same thing as it being bad history, or only "loosely based on history." Nor does it mean that they used their sources "uncritically" simply because you think it was a poor source to use, or disagree with how they are interpreting the source. Frankly, I will say again that there are very few people outside the folks at the Church History Department worth taking seriously on such assessments of the sources, and to my knowledge none of them comment on this board. Thus far, none of the comments I've seen so far even betray much of a genuine effort to even understand how they are putting the pieces together, which should be a fundamental first step to critically evaluating a history in the first place (none of this random source look-up hit-and-run garbage).
  11. Pro-tip: check all the sources listed in the footnote before jumping to conclusions. Footnote 13 has 2 sources listed: 1. Lorenzo Snow, Affidavit, Aug. 28, 1869, Joseph F. Smith, Affidavits about Celestial Marriage, Church History Library 2. Tullidge, Women of Mormondom, 368. The Lorenzo Snow affidavit appears to be there to support the part earlier in the paragraph: "After receiving the commandment, Joseph struggled to overcome his natural aversion to the idea. He could foresee trials coming from plural marriage, and he wanted to turn from it." I think the Snow affidavit reasonably supports that assertion. As for the timing, Snow is reporting that he learned about it in 1843. Anything Joseph told about his reluctance to practice would naturally apply to whenever the revelation was first given to him. The claim that the angel told Joseph to keep the revelation private comes from the Tullidge source, which is reporting the recollection of Elizabeth Ann Whitney: "He had been strictly charged. by the angel, who committed these precious things into his keeping, that he should only reveal them to such ones as were pure ... that to spread them abroad would only be like casting pearls before swine; and that the most profound secresy was to be maintained, until the Lord saw fit to make it known to the world." https://archive.org/details/womenofmormondom00tullrich This too places the events in 1842-43, but I'm not gonna do all the leg work for you on sorting out the dating. I presume (I haven't read this far yet, and only jumped to this paragraph because you brought it up) it's mentioned and sourced elsewhere in the narrative, and if you are interested it would probably only take a bit of digging to figure out. The practice of putting several sources supporting different assertions from multiple sentences in one footnote is not uncommon in professional history writing, and in fact can be found in, say, Bushman's Rough Stone Rolling. Likewise, it is not uncommon to use a source for a piece of information, but reconstruct the chronology differently than the source. Indeed, I would expect that to happen sometimes in a history that uses it's sources critically. But if you are expecting every source to support the claims of Saints in the exact way they have reconstructed the history, you will indeed be sorely disappointed. Any and all histories would fail under such an expectation. That is simply not how history writing works. While there is of course room to disagree with the narrative, I will say this again: based on everything I've seen so far, Saints is a defensible history.
  12. It needs to be pointed out that just because Saints is presented as a narrative, or "story" does not mean it is not rigorous history. Narrative history or narrative non-fiction is a legitimate form of professional history writing, and it is often used when writing for a popular audience. The Preface stresses, "Every scene, character, and line of dialogue is founded in historical sources, which are cited at the end of the book." The Church History Department has gone through pains to make sure nothing is undocumented. In a lot of ways, this is more rigorous than most narrative non-fiction, which typically has some embellishments and flourishes for narratives sake. Even if some details are based on later sources, that is still better than having unsupportable embellishments, in my opinion. So this really lives up to a higher standard than most narrative histories do. Commenting that the sources were chosen "uncritically" is judgement unjustified by the Preface or any other publicly available source. The fact is, the critical analysis that went into choosing which sources to use (and not use) is not publicly available, and so unless someone personally has insider knowledge as to why source X was chosen over source Y, they are merely jumping to conclusions, based on their personal views of specific sources---and I am willing to bet that with exception of very few people, Steven Harper and the other folks at the CHD are better qualified to make judgements about the quality of sources than those who are accusing them of using sources uncritically. Now, that being said, I am willing to bet that how "dialogue-able" a source was played a role in their choice to quote directly from it (rather than just refer to it), but that is not the same thing as uncritically using a source to support their story. So calling this "loosely based on history" is, in my view, absurd. No history ever written is perfect, and no doubt this will need to be revised in the future. But it's as soundly based on history as Bushman's Rough Stone Rolling is, even if there are differences between the two in terms of both style and interpretive choices. Saints is a defensible history.
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