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About DonBradley

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  • Birthday October 24

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  1. DonBradley

    Don Bradley's Book on the 116 Pages

    Friends, Hey! I'm excited to see the discussion on this here! I've been able to read the thread only very lightly to this point. And for a few reasons, I should try to keep my engagement here minimal. But I would like to say some general things in dialogue with what's come up so far. 1. It's important to note that my thesis is not my book on the lost 116 pages! Rather, my thesis and the book overlap, with the thesis providing a fraction of what will be in the book on the subject of what was in the lost pages. As such, my discussion in the thesis about the lost pages' contents is not meant to be very complete. The book manuscript should be complete by the end of this year, and, hopefully, in print September 2019. 2. Clark - great stuff on Masonry! I haven't been able to digest what you've posted in detail yet, but am saving it for that purpose. I think we are going similar directions, since I see Mormonism as in many ways very "Masonic" from the start. 3. I perceive ancient patterns in the Book of Mormon text, most clearly and powerfully in the narratives of Lehi, Nephi, and Mosiah I, and I see the Book of Mormon as, therefore, a vehicle for the restoration of elements of ancient Israelite faith that had since been lost. 4. A caveat: I'm an historian of 19th century American religion and necessarily approach early Mormon texts to a great extent from the vantage point of that specialization. And this necessarily shapes my work. In trying to piece together the context and content of the lost manuscript, I'm analyzing a variety of 19th century sources and weaving them together. I think this angle of approach has considerable strengths. But it also has its limitations. Someone with a specialization in ancient history, and with a broad scope of history across the past few thousand years, would doubtless be able to bring much greater clarity to many aspects of the Book of Mormon than I can. There are things in the Book of Mormon, including specifically in the knowable narrative of the Book of Lehi, that seem for all the world to me to come out of the world of ancient Israel. But, lacking the relevant specializations, I admit that I am not well positioned to make such scholarly judgments strongly, and I leave it to others to analyze the text in detail within an ancient context. I accept these limitations with humility, but also with alacrity. While I do not, and really cannot, have a perspective that brings out every aspect of the Book of Mormon text, I have a pretty powerful microscope for bringing out some things. And I love putting that microscope to use to see what pictures will emerge. One of the things I'm able to do pretty well--I think!--is line up the 19th century sources and see what they tell us about what was in the Book of Lehi manuscript. Hopefully others will then look at the Book of Lehi's narratives through the lens of the ancient world, and see what light that perspective brings to them. I welcome that. I'm not trying to say the last word on what was in the lost 116 pages, more like a first word--an invitation to greater scholarly discussion from various angles. 5. In my thesis, and in my book, I am trying to address multiple audiences--believer and nonbeliever alike. The more important of these audiences to me is believers, my fellow Latter-day Saints. In my book, I use our shared language of faith: e.g., that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. But in trying to address all my audiences, I overwhelmingly confine my presentation of evidence about what was in the lost pages to evidence that can be agreed upon by believer and nonbeliever alike. I think there's only place in the body of my book manuscript where I make an explicit assumption of historicity. In all other cases, I place any evidence that assumes historicity in the footnotes, so that the arguments in the body of the text will be equally accessible to all readers. 6. The perspective I offer in the conclusion to my thesis, that Joseph Smith may have seen the hand of Providence in how the events of his life lined up with the events of the narratives he revealed, is not just a theoretical possibility for me; it is a personal belief. When I began my research into the lost pages, about 14 years ago, I saw how some elements of the Book of Mormon's narrative (including the Book of Lehi narrative) connected with things going on in Joseph Smith's life as he was translating. After puzzling over these connections for a while, I soon began interpreting them under a model that saw Joseph constructing a narrative to fit his context. With time, and considerably more analysis, I have arrived at a radically different perspective than I then held. While I then saw Joseph acting as a "fraud," the data of my last several years of research has convinced me, even quite apart from my spiritual convictions, that Joseph was perfectly sincere. I have no doubt, on historical grounds alone, that Joseph Smith sincerely acted as a prophet and translator to give the world an ancient work of scripture. How, then, would Joseph have seen the connections between what was going on in the narratives he translated and what was going on in his own life at the time he translated them? My working conclusion is that he saw divine Providence lining these up, and possibly even as providing events in his life as grist for his translation mill as he "studied out in his mind" the words of translation. And this is a perspective that I not only think he held; it is one that I hold: I think God shaped Joseph Smith's life to lead him in the right direction. I don't ultimately know to what extent God was involved in tailoring these events, and I don't know what admixture of ancient and modern influences he used to shape the Book of Mormon's content as we've received it. I'm open to a range of understandings on this. But as curious as I am about it--and it is a big question, I leave it, at least for the time being, to God. I'm content to let God be God and do things His way, without me to tell Him how He should have done it. I don't feel a need to claim certainty about the details of how God brought all this together. If still quite curious, I am nonetheless content to know that God did bring it all together--that He brought forth the Book of Mormon as an instrument of restoration, and as a book that brings me closer to Him. That it has done just that, I am a witness. Don
  2. DonBradley

    Don Bradley's Book on the 116 Pages

    If they're still there to be found, I'd very much like to do that. 😃 In the interim, I'll "settle" for figuring out some of the cool things that were in them! Don
  3. DonBradley

    Don Bradley's Book on the 116 Pages

    😃 The 22nd is the anniversary, and that date is intentional. The angel came through the night of the 21st and 22nd, and Joseph visited the hill and encountered the plates on the 22nd. Don
  4. DonBradley

    Don Bradley's Book on the 116 Pages

    The anticipated release date is September 22, 2019. The big challenge at this point is as Clark correctly intuited. Most of the text is written, but my arguments about the narrative of Mosiah I draw on such a complex set of evidences that it is difficult to figure out how to present the evidence in a linear way to the reader. The evidences connect to each other in a complex web, and presenting that 3-dimensional web as linear text, without too much repetition, is going to be quite the feat. I need to have it done in the next six months. Wish me luck! Don
  5. DonBradley

    Is the Book of Mormon Satan anachronistic?

    Just saw this thread. Yes, he's anachronistic. But do you dare tell him that?!
  6. DonBradley

    An eyewitness account of Joseph Smith at Nauvoo

    Stories of Joseph Smith's generosity and kindness are myriad. I had to recognize that and try to take into account even when I was a complete non-believer.
  7. DonBradley

    King Follett Sermon Take 2!

    This quote confirms how I've always read the other JS statements that Clark cites, and the KFD where it says that the Father had power in himself to lay down his life and take it up again. We don't have that power. We don't resurrect ourselves by the power within us but, rather, are resurrected by Christ's power. The implication, made explicit in the December 1841 quote, is that the Father "had redeemed a world"--i.e., had been a Savior. Combining these various statements, Joseph seems to have understood that the third member of the Godhead later becomes the second, in a later Godhead, and ultimately the first. This view would also account for Joseph saying in the KFD that the Christ had seen the Father lay down his life and take it up again--Christ was then a "Holy Ghost" while the Father was a Savior. Where it gets a little trickier to understand Joseph's views is how all this relates to us. If Joseph believed that gods move up through these positions in successive Godheads, then he must have believed one of the following: 1) That we become "Holy Ghosts," then saviors, then Fathers; or, 2) That "Godhead gods," as we might call them, are of a different order than us--and that we, thus, never become "Holy Ghosts," saviors, or Fathers. The December 1841 WW Journal quote seems to say the first "& the HHoly Ghost would to the same when in his turn & so would all the Saints who inherited a Celestial glory." But I have trouble believing that WW is reporting the detail here closely enough to make that step. Joseph preaches elsewhere about how our bodies will rise from our graves here on this earth. If we are not resurrected until after a stint as a "Holy Ghost," this wouldn't happen on this earth, and not with these bodies. Viewing Joseph as holding proposition #1 above would require seeing him as not really believing the doctrine of resurrection that he preached much more often than he seemingly preached this other idea. So it seems more likely that Joseph held "Godhead gods" to be a separate order from us, with the implications that 1) contrary to the evangelical critique of King Follett doctrine, God the Father never sinned, and 2) we will never be worshipped, since we will never be Godhead gods. It's interesting to note that in the KFD Joseph appears not to have said that God the Father once dwelt on an earth the same as we do, but that He once dwelt on an earth the same as Christ did. I'm not sure how I personally feel about all this. I certainly believe that we can be deified in a very robust sense. But I have trouble thinking we are of the same order as God the Father and Christ or desiring to be worshipped. Also, while I don't claim to know anything here, I'm fond of Blake's idea that God the Father is the ultimate Source or font of all divinity. I certainly worship Him as such. In any case, Joseph's various teachings on the subject may suggest some new wrinkles or lines of interpretation for the LDS doctrine of deification. Don
  8. I don't see the actions described as morally equivalent.
  9. An ex-Mormon who has deceitfully sneaked through the temple scores of times making videos was trying to destroy a presidential candidate simply for being Mormon by doctoring temple footage to make it appear that Mitt Romney worshipped Satan and you think that the Mormons should be ashamed of this episode?
  10. Dang, Blueglass and Hope For Things, I would have loved to have met you there. Or did I? I guess I wouldn't have known if I did! Yeah, it was a really great presentation. He was going fast trying to fit everything in. Don
  11. What kind of rascal would write such a thing?!
  12. I agree that Taves is suggesting a middle ground for discussion. And I think that so far as the bare fact of there being plates is concerned, she does offer such a potential middle ground. I also agree with Smac that her hypothesis, as presented, doesn't address, and doesn't appear to be intended to address, the details of Joseph Smith's narrative of recovering the plates. If a full middle ground position were to be staked out, it would need to be able to account for those details. Don
  13. Hope, Thanks for the podcast recommendation. I'll have to give it a listen. The D&C 7 analogy is interesting. John is said to have "hid up" the record. But John was a translated being at the time, suggesting that he could have "hid up" the record on either an earthly or a heavenly plane. Don
  14. Analytics, Ah, very interesting. Good point about the plates not being physically necessary to the translation. And interesting spiritual option for the reality of the plates. It makes me think of the idea of the "Akashic record" that is supposed to record everything that's happened. Thanks, Don
  15. Yeah. This is the kind of idea I had in mind. Is the Lamb's Book of Life an actual material book? And if it is, would it make a difference it were composed of physical matter or of spirit matter? Joseph obviously describes the plates as having been a physical object buried by Moroni. But I'm interested in these kinds of ideas within the bounds of Taves's hypothesis. Don