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JarMan

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About JarMan

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  1. Mormon's handbook on war and peace

    The reason given in 1 Samuel 7 for fighting the Philistines is to recover captured cities. It is done for the benefit of Israel as a people. In other words, it’s purely a public purpose. The justification for war isn’t to protect or preserve the personal rights of individual citizens. There is no indication the Israelites thought in those terms. Contrast that with Alma 43. The Nephites had personal liberties they wanted to protect: their property, families, and freedom of religion, as well as other unspecified rights and privileges. (Freedom of religion was established among the Nephites but would have been a foreign concept to the Israelites who were always commanded to either remain separate from or else destroy those who worshipped other Gods.) Both the Israelites and Nephites wanted to preserve their lives and avoid being in bondage, as all people naturally desire the same. But the justications for their actions and basic assumptions are worlds apart. We are so indoctrinated in our western view of individual rights we have a hard time imagining a different world view and we tend to project our own values on other cultures when it isn’t warranted.
  2. Mormon's handbook on war and peace

    My hypothesis is that the Nephite philosophy of war and peace and individual rights would not have developed as we see it in the Book of Mormon but for the influence of post-600 BC Greek philosophy. As far as I know, those ideas have not independently arisen at any other time in history and the western ideas that we are familiar with can be traced directly back to them. We would expect Nephite thinking to resemble the ancient Israelite tradition. . . not Renaissance/Enlightment ideals.
  3. Mormon's handbook on war and peace

    Interesting. I had never heard of Kircher or the others before. Kircher’s connection to Egyptology and Hebrew, among many other things, makes him the more interesting in the context of this discussion. The Book of Enoch tie reminds me of the “plain and precious” discussion regarding scripture removed from the Bible by the great and abominable church. From a reformation-era perspective the Catholic Church would obviously correspond to the G&A church. And the Book of Enoch was considered canonical by many in the church until about the fourth century from what I gather. The Book of Enoch could therefore be an example of one of those things that were removed.
  4. Mormon's handbook on war and peace

    The preservation of individual liberties as a justification for waging war is pretty unique in world history. The general justification for waging war in the Old Testament, for example, seems to be to punish wickedness. The war against the Canaanites was also to reclaim long lost lands. Both of these reasons for waging war are rejected in the Book of Mormon. Even defensive wars in the ancient world were not conceptualized as a defense of individual liberty since the concept of humans having individual, natural rights didn’t exist in the way we understand it. Additionally, the Nephite ethic is to tolerate or make peace with non-believers, not to kill them as the ancient Israelites were commanded. Nephite theory on war and peace and religious tolerance seems quite reasonable to us . . which is precisely why it is so out of place. There is a historical window of time and place where the Nephite ethic makes perfect sense. That window is not 1820’s America, though. It’s 17th Century Europe among the Dutch reformers.
  5. Mormon's handbook on war and peace

    I think we already have our Joseph regardless of what may have happened in the 17th Century. I’ve been thinking about your idea that people in different places and times can be inspired to the same conclusions. I agree to an extent but ideas, however inspired they may be, always occur in a greater context. Part of the Book of Mormon narrative in Alma and elsewhere is focused on people protecting their rights. This is a philosophy that is really foreign to the Old Testament. It’s a philosophy that derived from ancient antiquity. The Nephites didn’t have the knowledge of the ancient Greeks to inform them…they had the brass plates. So it’s anachronistic for them to be fighting for their liberties as described in the Book of Mormon since the idea of natural rights wasn’t part of their culture. It’s an idea we take for granted, but consider the Islamic world, for example, as a culture that accepts a portion of the OT but has not embraced the New Testament or Greek philosophy. There is no way we could claim Captain Moroni’s ideology, for example, was Islamic. However, he would have fit perfectly into 16th or 17th Century Europe as the scholars at that time were rediscovering classical antiquity and melding those ideas with the wisdom gained from the Old and New Testaments and the early church fathers. It’s a synthesis of these different traditions that led to the enlightenment and to what we might call Jeffersonian liberalism. And I believe we can place Book of Mormon political/religious philosophy on that historical timeline fairly precisely. I would say within a period of maybe forty years, say between 1620 and 1660.
  6. Mormon's handbook on war and peace

    This an argument from faith. I can see no evidence the Armenian/Book of Mormon soteriology was taught by anybody until a few years after 1600. Using the argument that the Book of Mormon is similar to Arminianism because they both come from the same divine source is a complicated road to travel. By following this logic, modern Mormonism should have the same theology as the Book of Mormon. The problem is that it does not. In the Book of Mormon we don't (unambiguously) find the three degrees of glory, temple ordinances, the current understanding of the Godhead or the pre-mortal life among other things. If we can't expect Modern Mormonism to be the same religion as the Book of Mormon religion even though we insist on the same divine source, why would we expect that any other religious system would be the same as the Book of Mormon?
  7. Mormon's handbook on war and peace

    I don't think the Book of Mormon could possibly have been produced before 1611 because of its dependence on the KJB. Grotius lived from 1583-1645. He was a child prodigy who entered the University of Leiden at the age of 11 and published his first book at 16. His best known treatise on the laws of war and peace was written in 1625, but he actually had an earlier work from 1604 largely covering the same subject matter. Only one chapter of this 1604 work was published in his lifetime. I am studying both of these and trying to determine if there is anything unique in the 1625 work (meaning it didn't appear in 1604) that is reflected in the Book of Mormon. This would allow me to move the lower bound (which I've tentatively set at 1611) for when the Book of Mormon was produced to 1625. As for causality, I think it's possible a case could be developed based on the specific doctrinal issues, particularly the soteriology we see in the Book of Mormon, that those issues came directly from Arminianism and that those particular ideas were not present in Christianity before about 1600. For example, the Book of Mormon addresses the debate between free will and predestination, which is one of the primary debates the Arminians were having with the Calvinists during Grotius' lifetime. The ideas espoused by the Arminians in this debate are a "prevenient" grace (what the Book of Mormon calls the "light of Christ"), free will to except his saving grace ("free to chose"), Christ's grace being offered to all ("universal atonement"), followed by a requirement to persevere ("endure to the end"). As far as I can tell this system of soteriology is unique to Arminianism and arose from the broader debate they were having with the Calvinists in the early 1600's which arose from a broader debate among protestants in the 1500's which arose from a broader debate in the Catholic church as instigated by Luther and others. But this Arminian soteriology is also the same doctrine set forth in the Book of Mormon. Because of the unique history that led to the development of this soteriology, I can't imagine that the Nephites would have independently come up with the same system.
  8. Mormon's handbook on war and peace

    It's not particularly surprising to find any one of the items mentioned in my Grotius quotation in a particular culture. The surprise comes when you see a cluster of several ideas that are the exact ideas you see clustered in another work. If I was writing a fictional story and wanted to demonstrate the truth of Grotius' idea from the single paragraph I quoted earlier, I couldn't come up with a better narrative than Alma 47. It's almost as if Alma 47 was written for the express purpose of bringing to life the ideas Grotius sets forth in the abstract.
  9. Mormon's handbook on war and peace

    I don't disagree from a general perspective that moral societies will come up with similar answers to questions. But, if at some point the similarities start to look like dependencies, then I think you have to consider whether or not that is the case. In order to determine dependence I think you need to consider both specificity and multiplicity. Then as a baseline for comparison you can look at any two societies and see what similarities exist between them. What I see with the Grotius/Mormon comparison is specificity and multiplicity far beyond what I see between other non-dependent systems of which I am aware.
  10. Mormon's handbook on war and peace

    I'll give another example to bolster my case. In justifying the use of stratagem, Grotius gives some exceptions. The breaking of oaths and promises is one that I already mentioned, and while I haven't done a systematic review of the role of oaths in warfare in the Book of Mormon, my memory tells me that oaths were often used and respected in the Nephite/Lamanite system. But this isn't the exact example I wanted to use. In expounding on this idea of oaths, Grotius says the following: In this paragraph Grotius commentates on the following actions (the relevance of which I will show hereafter): 1) betraying a protector, 2) acting as a traitor, 3) hiring assassins, particularly poisoners, 4) the moral equivalence between performing an evil deed and doing the evil deed oneself. This brings us to Alma 47. Amalickiah wants to become king of the Lamanites so that he can have an army to fight his Nephite brethren. He ingratiates himself with the king, and is given command of part of the army. Then through stratagem (though not the kind Grotius or Mormon approve of) Amalickiah suborns an assassin to kill Lehonti with poison, and then suborns another assassin--the traitorous servant of the king--to kill the king. So in a single Book of Mormon chapter we see several direct, obvious, and pointed parallels to a single paragraph from Grotius.
  11. Mormon's handbook on war and peace

    God has been inspiring people for all of human history. But every society comes up with a different system. When you see two systems that are identical yet separated by an ocean and over a thousand years it can’t be a coincidence. Consider Helaman 12:15 where Mormon tells us that the earth goes around the sun. That’s only a news item if it’s 17th Century Europe. Otherwise it doesn’t belong in the story. Also consider that a major topic of debate among scholars In the 16th and 17th centuries was the origin of the Indians. Some felt they were the lost tribes. Some felt they arrived from the Old World by boat. Others thought they came from Asia following the confounding of languages at Babel. There were various other theories, as well, but you can see why I picked these. Everything in the Book of Mormon (including the language it was written in) testifies the time and place it was produced. It’s one of those things you just can’t unsee once you see it.
  12. Mormon's handbook on war and peace

    Perhaps I should give an example of where I see Grotius' thinking employed in the Book of Mormon. The use of "stratagem" is part and parcel of the way Nephites do battle. Although the word "stratagem" is never really defined in the Book of Mormon, you can understand from the context that it means the purposeful use of deceit to gain a military advantage over the enemy. This is essentially the same definition given by Grotius when he commentates on the use of stratagem in war. In Alma 43:30 Mormon relates Moroni's justification for using stratagem in war. The thing that has always struck me as being odd about this passage is that Moroni/Mormon felt a need to justify using strategy. This would only be necessary if they were aware of or anticipated disagreement on this point. From my perspective I can't even imagine someone would think stratagem was NOT justifiable in war and so I've always wondered who exactly they were trying to convince. As I read Grotius, this explanation in Alma 43:30 gradually made sense to me. Here's what Grotius says: "Wars, for the attainment of their objects, it cannot be denied, must employ force and terror as their most proper agents. But a doubt is sometimes entertained, whether stratagem may be lawfully used in war." He goes on to say that the answer to this question depends on "whether stratagem ought to be ranked as one of those evils, which are prohibited under the maxim of not doing evil, that good may ensue, or to be reckoned as one of those actions, which, though evil in themselves, may be so modified by particular occasions, as to lose their criminality in consideration of the good, to which they lead." In other words, he is addressing the idea that since stratagem, by it's very nature involves deceit, it may be supposed by some to be immoral even in war. But he never identifies anyone who has made this argument, which tells me he knows of nobody who has made the argument, since in almost every case he gives numerous examples from history to support the assertions he makes. This tells me that he is defending a purely hypothetical argument created in his own mind. Similarly, in the Book of Mormon, we hear of nobody who objects to the use of stratagem in war. So I return to my original question, which is why there is any need to justify the practice to the reader. The answer, as I see it, is that Mormon/Moroni are employing Grotian thinking by justifying a practice that nobody has objected to under the assumption that somebody theoretically could object based on a strict interpretation of the necessity of only performing righteous actions under the doctrine of the gospel. But this is only the beginning of Grotian ideas regarding stratagem in the Book of Mormon. We also need to examine the justification given. Mormon/Moroni justify the action based on the fact that they are defending their land, liberty, and church. This is quite agreeable to our modern perception of what may make war justifiable. It also fits perfectly with Grotius' theory of natural rights. Here's what he has to say about what makes war and certain actions in war justifiable. But Grotius stops short of justifying every action in the name of defending natural rights. He makes it clear that a promise or oath made even to an enemy cannot be broken even though it would seem to fall into the category of deceit made in the name of stratagem. So although deception is allowed in war as a general rule, the breaking of a promise or an oath is an exception. This ideal is strongly valued and practiced by the Nephites.
  13. Mormon's handbook on war and peace

    I’m beginning to think an original Latin composition followed by an English translation may be a better model since it could possibly explain some of the English words and phrases that seem to post-date the era I have in mind. Also, though John Smith may be a match on the Arminian, do we know anything about his philosophy on war and peace or on the proper role of government as related to religion? These are the three points where I think I’ve found a clear correlation between Grotius and the Book of Mormon.
  14. Mormon's handbook on war and peace

    Yes, one of my favorite talks last conference. I want to address the idea that the further you go back in time the more likely you are to find things in common. I've basically shown three different themes that exist both in the Book of Mormon and in Grotius' writings and I'll address each one with the aforementioned idea in mind. 1) The role of the state in religion - You are at least partially right on this one. If you go back to Old Testament times you will see a similar theory. Many other ancient non-biblical civilizations also had a close church-state relation. 2) Arminianism - This particular strand of Protestantism developed in the early 17th century in response to Dutch Calvinism. Calvinism, of course, can be seen in the larger context of the 16th century reformation. But the farther in time you go back before 1600, the farther away you get from Arminianism. It is not the case that if you keep going back you end up with more in common. 3) The laws of peace and war - There simply never was a systematic treatment of this subject until Grotius' seminal work. As you go back in time you see many things in every age, as a rule, that contradict what he had to say about the morality of certain actions in war. In Grotius' own age the actions of the various warring nations violated these principles, and the attempt to urge moral restraint in warfare was apparently the entire point of producing the work. This work was influential for later enlightenment thinkers, but as a systematic way of conducting warfare it was a foreign way of thinking for essentially all of human history before 1625.
  15. Mormon's handbook on war and peace

    Interesting theory. But it doesn’t account for the Early Modern English.
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