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JarMan

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About JarMan

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  1. JarMan

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    It looks like each of us is participating in this thread for different reasons. I'm participating to support the idea that the Book of Mormon has an early modern origin. I've identified Hugo Grotius as potentially being the early modern author. I was discussing his theory of ethical warfare and how I believe it to be reflected in the Book of Mormon. So for this discussion I'm not that interested in debating the merits of Grotius' ethical system or trinitarianism per se. I'm more interested in discussing the evidence for my theory and other matters that hearken to the original subject of the thread. If you are interested in discussing ethics, perhaps you should start a new thread on the subject.
  2. JarMan

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    The ethical systems I'm comparing are the ethics of war. So things like sexual behavior are not part of my analysis. I think I should try to explain Grotius' system a little better. He lived in a time of tremendous religious strife and religious warfare. Heretics were being burned at the stake and most of Europe was being ravaged by war. The subtext to all of this strife was religious disagreement (though of course there were other political considerations, as well). Grotius wanted to develop a code of conduct in war that everybody could agree to. By identifying "natural law" principles he felt they could be universally accepted--even by those who didn't believe in God. His starting point was that man had an inherent right--a "natural right"-- to defend himself. He may have personally believed this right was from God. But to allow this to be a universal right accepted even by non-believers, he didn't appeal to the divine in order to identify self defense as a natural right. The second principle was the social nature of man. Man was this way by nature. Whether he personally believed God had created man that way or not is beside the point. He simply stated that man was naturally in that state as a principle that he hoped could be universally accepted by both religious and non-religious people. This second principle is important for a couple of reasons. It implies that people will organize themselves into groups for their own mutual benefit--governments, if you will--and that there are thus different ways (some better than others) to accomplish this. Also, people will need to depend on others to help them with the first principle, which is self defense since one person can't effectively do that job on his own. This becomes the foundation of what later thinkers would call social contract theory. By organizing into societies for mutual benefits, particularly self defense, you owe something to that society. You can't simply free-ride on the benefits without contributing anything yourself. An example of this theory applied in Grotius' life is the case of the Anabaptists (whose modern theological descendants include the Mennonites and Amish). Grotius was an admirer of the Anabaptists who he felt were the most Christian people he knew. However, he strongly disagreed with their pacifist views. It sort of broke his heart to be in such strong disagreement with them over this issue. He respected their own personal choice in choosing not to fight but felt pacifism was not a principle that all Christians should adopt. As a compromise he believed that Anabaptists could exist within the larger Christian community as long as they agreed to pay for the costs of their protection. We see these exact principles reflected in the Book of Mormon with the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. They are revered as examples of righteousness. But they also have to pay for the protections provided by the Nephites. This is one of the many examples where Grotius' natural law theory shines through in the Book of Mormon. If Abinadi is to be believed, "God himself" came down in "the form of man" (Mosiah 13:34). This was the heresy charge that led to him being burned at the stake (Mosiah 17:7-8). So God didn't sacrifice his son. He sacrificed himself. Self sacrifice can be a moral act.
  3. JarMan

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    If the Book of Mormon was ancient scripture we would expect the Book of Mormon people to have ancient views. Since they have modern views instead that tells us the Book of Mormon is probably a modern book. I’m suggesting those that authored the OT accounts were trying to justify the immoral behavior of their people by claiming God commanded them to do it. I mentioned two underlying principles of Grotius’ system of ethics. They are that people have a right to defend themselves and that humans are social creatures. He derives everything else from these ideas. No. If God had commanded it God would have been wrong. My view is that God did not command it. It is just a story demonstrating the level of commitment the people were expected to have toward God.
  4. JarMan

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    You’re right. They do contradict each other. That’s because one concept is from the OT and the other is from the Book of Mormon. My whole point is that these two books present different views of the nature of God. My explanation for this is that the OT is an ancient work and the Book of Mormon is an early modern one. The ancient view of morality is that whatever God commands is, by definition, moral. This is the view in the OT. We thus see unspeakable cruelty to innocent people being required by God in the OT. Grotius’ view of ethics was that ethical behavior could be derived from a few basic principles, even if God didn’t exist. He reasoned that God’s will would be consistent with this view since God is both rational and good. So man isn’t judging God. He’s simply using reason to identify true principles consistent with God’s will. I don’t understand it either but we still see it. We praise Abraham for his obedience while simultaneously condemning human sacrifice. The rational way to look at this is to either admit that human sacrifice is sometimes acceptable, or else to admit that Abraham was wrong to obey God. I take the second view because I disagree with the OT idea that murdering innocent people is moral if God commands it. I prefer the Book of Mormon view which is that God won’t command that which is immoral.
  5. JarMan

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    Thanks for the challenges and civil discussion.
  6. JarMan

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    You are espousing a fiction by continuing to claim that Nephi condoned the specific violent actions of the Israelites in conquering Canaan. It's like saying that praising the outcome of the Civil War or the Revolutionary War or WWII or any war for that matter is an implicit endorsement of any war crimes or atrocities committed by the winning side. Actually it's even worse than that because the purpose of Nephi's commentary isn't to pontificate on the war at all. His purpose is to establish the dichotomy we see throughout both the OT and the Book of Mormon: God punishes the wicked and blesses the righteous. You want to conflate method with outcome to support your point when neither the context nor a direct reading supports this. Nephi is talking outcome. As in, come on big brothers, if you don't support me in this commandment from God, this is going to be the outcome. You are conveniently forgetting some important details in the Laban story. Part of the justification for killing Laban was that he had tried to kill Nephi and his brothers and had taken their property. The Lord doesn't deliver a drunken Laban into Nephi's hands until after he had some moral justification for the killing. Whether there was sufficient provocation or not is up for debate. But you can't pretend this is similar to the repeated, unprovoked, mass killing of women and children. As far as Abraham's non-sacrifice of Isaac there are a few things to consider. As I mentioned earlier, I see the early part of the Book of Mormon as a transition from a barbaric to a more civilized culture. Nephi and his family were Israelites. They were products of the barbaric culture they inherited. I see both the killing of Laban and also the taking of his servant captive as morally borderline actions. In my mind this shows the ethical transformation that is taking place. Afterwards they no longer justify killing in any situation except punishment for severe crimes and in defensive wars. And they no longer justify slavery. And the Nephites find themselves in a moral conundrum similar to the one we face today. The god of our holy scripture commanded things in the past that are immoral. We try to find a balancing act where we pay some amount of lip service to the idea of obedience to God, yet we don't condone the immoral things the people were commanded to do. In my mind this is what Nephi is doing when he points out that Abraham's actions in obeying God were considered to be righteous. We had this very discussion in Gospel Doctrine Class earlier this year. We can admire Abraham for his obedience while simultaneously and unambiguously rejecting the idea of human sacrifice under any circumstance. In bringing up multiple wives I think you've mis-identified what is really happening. The commandment in the Book of Mormon is actually more restrictive than the OT. So you can't claim the people were being allowed to do something they would normally find morally repugnant. It was just the opposite. They were being limited in a practice they found to be morally acceptable. Now we come to the issue of anachronism again. You are recycling an oft misused apologetic argument that I really wish people would reflect a little bit more upon. It is not logically coherent to claim an anachronism does not exist based on what we don't know. This argument usually takes two different forms. The first, is that the Nephites had scriptures or teachings not found in the Book of Mormon. If we had those scriptures (the argument goes) then we would find all of the missing doctrines such as the degrees of glory or temple work for the dead or whatever it is we want to be in the Nephite record that just doesn't show up in the Book of Mormon. The second form this argument takes is to say that the evidence is out there, we just haven't found it yet. This is usually used in the context of archaeology. No horses or elephants in the archaeological record from the correct time period?--We just haven't found it yet. At some point we have to come up with an explanation that relies on the facts we actually know instead of an explanation that appeals to speculation about what exists in the gaps. This is the intellectually honest approach. The other way is more of a faith-based approach, which I don't have a problem with, by the way. My problem is when people dress the faith-based approached in fact-based clothing and try to pass it off as something it isn't. Finally, you are missing the point about the changed ethic we see in the Book of Mormon. God never commands human sacrifice or the slaughter of innocent people in the Book of Mormon precisely because God is inherently ethical. He cannot command something that is against his own nature. And we can infer general ethical principles based on the events in the Book of Mormon. That is precisely what this book of scripture is begging us to do.
  7. JarMan

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    It makes no sense to view Nephi's statements as corroboration of D&C 98. You are conflating two separate ideas. One is the idea that God will punish wicked people, sometimes through defeat in war. Nephi does corroborate this. But the other idea is that God commands offensive wars, the mass slaughter of innocent people, and the enslavement of enemies. Nephi says nothing to support this idea. The righteous Nephites never start offensive wars; never commit mass slaughter; never enslave their enemies. See 1 Samuel 15 for a good example. I don't think you can support this view. Nephi says the people were ripe in iniquity and that is why the Lord destroyed them. This is what I mean by vengeance. Nephi says nothing that indicates he endorses offensive war, mass slaughter, or slavery. He is simply setting up a dichotomy between good people and evil people to persuade his brothers to follow him. You are reading in what you want to be in there. But it's not in there. By a defensive war I am talking about who started it, not about how it is conducted. This war was clearly not started by the Nephites. They were simply defending themselves. Pursuing an aggressive end to the war does not suddenly make the war offensive. An offensive war would be a war of conquest in order to gain land, tribute, slaves, booty, etc. The Nephites never conduct this type of war which is so common in the OT. Trying to aggressively end a war that is thrust upon you is well within the Grotian war ethic. Nephi does not expressly approve of the actions of the people of Israel. Again, you are reading something that is not there. And a single homicide (based on ample provocation, as you well know) does not equal unprovoked, offensive warfare that repeatedly involves slaughtering thousands of innocent people. This is a moral equivocation of the worst order. It would be a better comparison to look at some of the non-war homicides that occur in the OT since Nephi's actions were not in a military context. For instance, we have Moses slaying an Egyptian, Sampson murdering a bunch of Philistines, or Elijah killing the prophets of Baal. These acts have varying degrees of provocation (or none, in Sampson's case) but these acts are more comparable. They aren't, however, very useful in helping us understand the military ethic of the OT. We have no record of any people practicing or espousing a Nephite military ethic before modern times. None at all. That is what anachronism is. In fact, I would say there has never been a modern culture that has truly practiced it. It's an ideal. Something to aspire to. That's the beauty of the Book of Mormon. It gives individuals and nations ideals to aspire to. And it turns the OT ideal of obey God no matter what completely on its head. As it turns out, God operates based on rational, moral principals that can be derived without having to invoke God to prove them. At least that's what Grotius believed. And I think the Book of Mormon--in contradistinction to the OT--demonstrates this beautifully, as well.
  8. JarMan

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    The way I interpret the killing of Laban is as a transitory event. It's as if the Book of Mormon is telling us this is the old way of doing things. And it ends as soon as we leave Jerusalem. Never again does the Lord command such a thing in the Book of Mormon. And as you pointed out, Nephi is really torn about this decision. The OT prophets are never torn about killing someone when God commanded it. Or, at least when they are, God punishes them for their hesitation. This is a different God than the one in the Book of Mormon. The parts you have bolded are about vengeance belonging to God. They do not say it is ethical to start an offensive war just because God commands it. I haven't claimed that aggressive warfare in the Book of Mormon is not commanded. It's offensive warfare that is off limits. The Nephites are free to defend themselves when their lives and liberties are being threatened. Moroni and the Nephites are participating in a war that was thrust upon them by the aggression of their enemies. We can't read the D&C to find out what's in the Book of Mormon. We have to read the Book of Mormon to find out what's in the Book of Mormon. And the God of the Book of Mormon never tells the Nephites to start an offensive war. Nor do the Nephites ever justify an aggression by saying that the Lord commanded it. That's an OT concept not a Book of Mormon one. In the Book of Mormon offensive war is never justified and the Lord never commands it (the killing of Laban notwithstanding). I stand by that statement. That is a different concept from whether or not or in what manner God chooses to punish the wicked. And in the Book of Mormon God certainly never commands the wholesale slaughter of innocent people. This is irrelevant to the points I brought up. The relevant issue is when the OT people chose to go to war, what justifications did they use? And how did they prosecute their wars when it came to treating their enemies? When you compare to the Nephites you get fundamentally different answers to these questions. No, it wasn't transferred to Lehi and Nephi. It may have been partially transferred to the Lamanites. But the OT justification for war (it is moral because God commanded it) is never used in the Book of Mormon. No matter how much you want to ignore it, the OT justifies offensive warfare, the killing of innocent non-combatants, and the enslavement of enemies. It does this over and over again in unambiguous terms. This is not a Book of Mormon military ethic no matter how hard you look. Notwithstanding the killing of Laban, the God of the Book of Mormon doesn't make exceptions to Grotius' natural law theory of warfare. It's as if we are talking about two different Gods of War. The OT God of War says: what I say you do no matter how horrible it seems. The Book of Mormon God of War says: I will never command something that is immoral in the first place.
  9. JarMan

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    There are two issues I think are helpful to keep separate. The first is Book of Mormon warfare tactics, strategy and general practices. Second is the issue of a warfare ethic. On the first issue I agree with the scholars that the Book of Mormon is describing "real" warfare. The Book of Mormon author is no doubt familiar with the practices of warfare in the ancient world. Grotius was a historian of ancient warfare, particularly of ancient Rome and Greece. He also wrote the history of Dutch warfare during the late 16th Century including the famous battle with the Spanish Armada. He is really the perfect authorial candidate when it comes to having the necessary knowledge about warfare to be able to construct the narratives in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon similarities to ancient Roman warfare, I think, out-pace any similarities to ancient meso-american warfare. The second issue--ethics in warfare--is really something I think the scholars have missed the target on. The obvious comparison to make is with the ethics of warfare in the Old Testament. We see a notable divergence from the OT to the Book of Mormon. The OT ethic is based on the idea that what God commands is, by definition, moral. If God commands an offensive war it is, by definition, a moral war. If God commands the slaughter of non-combatant men, women, and children that is, by definition, a moral action. Same thing with taking slaves, plunder, and all other actions in warfare. The God of the Book of Mormon never commands offensive warfare, the slaughter of innocent people, the taking of slaves, or any other practices we would consider immoral from a modern perspective. This is a major anachronism. We do not see this moral order in warfare in any ancient culture in any part of the world. It just didn't exist anciently. This was a system that was developed in early modern times by bringing together Greek philosophy, Christian ethics, and a historical outlook on warfare throughout the ancient through early modern worlds. Grotius' system was based on natural rights and he believed the principles would be valid even without the existence of God. The basic principles were that humans had a natural right to self-preservation and, by extension, the right to protect their property, families, and freedoms. Also, humans are by nature, social creatures, and depend on others in order to help effect the protection of their lives and freedoms. All of his other ideas basically grow from these two basic principles. This is a completely different system from the idea that what God commands God justifies. Instead, the system stands on its own without any command from God. Grotius would never have God command anything that contradicted his system since God is a rational being. The difference between the OT and the Book of Mormon is the difference between radical jihad and the western ideal of tolerance. We should not expect Book of Mormon people to have modern western values
  10. JarMan

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    For the record I don't reject the standard narrative. I take it on faith and am comfortable with the cognitive dissonance that comes with pursuing a different explanation. The main problem with the standard narrative, though, is that the Book of Mormon is completely anachronistic. With my model all of the anachronisms go away. I have discussed dozens of examples on here in the past but I'll bring up one again that I think is very significant. The ethics of warfare in the Book of Mormon make no sense from any ancient people I know of, and especially not from ancient Hebraic or American peoples. The Book of Mormon warfare ethic tells us when warfare is justified, whether it is right to take captives as slaves, the proper treatment of prisoners, the proper treatment of non-combatants, how to deal with robbers, when civil war is justified, when deception is justified, and a host of other related issues. This warfare ethic is not found in the bible or in any ancient cultures. It's very familiar to us moderns and, as a result, I think we tend to not realize just how different it is from the ancient world and from Old Testament peoples. Now lets look at early modern Europe. A system of international law was being developed in the 16th and 17th Centuries that agrees strikingly with the principles in the Book of Mormon including the ones I have listed above. The man who literally wrote the book on international law (or ethical warfare) is the very person I have proposed as the author of the Book of Mormon. For me, ethical warfare has always been one of the main messages of the Book of Mormon. If you look at my proposed time frame for the production of the Book of Mormon (1635 to 1645) you can see that Europe was in the throes of a horrible war. . . the deadliest war in human history up to that point in time. The Book of Mormon strikes me as a plea to all nations in all times, particularly Christian nations, to repent and end the bloodshed (or don't start it in the first place) or else risk being punished by God with utter destruction.
  11. JarMan

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    The only massaging I think may have happened is obsolete words may have been replaced. What did you have in mind? Why did Galileo continue to explore the idea that the earth revolves around the sun instead of assuming the church was right that the universe was geocentric? He was simply following the evidence. Following the evidence — even in the face of deeply held religious views — is bound to bring about more knowledge and understanding, not less. Evidence-based reasoning has a pretty good track record.
  12. JarMan

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    There are two parts to this. First is the likelihood that a previously unknown early modern text would surface in the 1800’s. The second is the likelihood that Joseph Smith could have gotten access to it. The first issue is really not uncommon at all. I happen to know of a previously unknown early modern document that surfaced in 1864. The work is called “On the Law of Prize and Booty” and was originally written around 1609. This is a significant series of events since the author of this work is a man named Hugo Grotius. He is the very same man I have proposed as being the original early modern author of the Book of Mormon. Additionally, I believe I can point to a passage in this work that has a striking parallel in the Book of Mormon. In other words, I think it’s plausible the Book of Mormon author was familiar with this 1609-ish work. This argues against Joseph Smith or any of his contemporaries being the author since this work wouldn’t be discovered for another 35 years after the Book of Mormon was dictated. And of course it supports my notion that the Book of Mormon was written by Grotius. The second thing to address is the likelihood that Joseph could have come into possession of this manuscript. This likelihood is hard to assess and I think a person’s first reaction would be to consider it very unlikely. But I don’t think it’s as unlikely as it might seem at first. @Rajah Manchou has brought to my attention that a Dr John Smith was Joseph’s great uncle. This is a person that could have very well come into possession of such a manuscript. It’s as little as two degrees of separation then to get it to Joseph Smith Jr.
  13. JarMan

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    Yes, you are seeing what I was seeing regarding parallelism. Except I don’t think visit works well here. I think the whole point is that God would cause (visit) the Nephite destruction and their enemies would witness (behold) it. The parallelism doesn’t work if God visits in the first instance but the enemies visit in the second. The parallelism does work if God does the visiting and the enemies do the beholding in both instances. This Latin-English dictionary offers both “visit” and “behold” as a possible interpretation of viso. Several of the words and phrases Skousen has identified as possibly not originating before the early 1700’s can be “moved back in time” by appealing to Latin or French. Hinderment and ites are two examples that appeal to the French.The suffixes -ment and -ites both come from the French. Skousen acknowledges that these words could have been created with knowledge of similar words like government and Israelites, but I think the likelihood increases if our translator was fluent in French. The other instance is retained meaning to take back. The French/Latin roots of this word can mean to take back. Skousen lists 13 words/phrases that he hasn’t been able to find before the early 1700’s. Of those, I think a plausible case can be made for four of them by appealing to French or Latin. Two of them I think have since been found (though I’m waiting for some feedback on “murmur with”. One example, “an eye singled to”, can plausibly be explained simply by its pronunciation being almost indistinguishable from “an eye single to”. This leaves only six phrases that have not yet been found in EModE. Of these six, four haven’t been found in English in any era, so its possible they are novel constructions that were created either by Joseph Smith or an early modern writer/translator. This leaves us with only two phrases in the entire Book of Mormon that seem to be modern: “they are a descendant of the Jews” (descendant with a plural subject) and “wax strong in years”. Once these two fall (and they will) we will be able to account for everything in the Book of Mormon as being pre-early-1700’s or else novel constructions of an unknown date. If you find a horde of coins it’s likely it was hidden soon after the date on the newest coin in the horde. Right now our coin horde appears to have only two modern coins. If we can show these coins are actually early modern, it will make it likely our horde is actually early modern.
  14. JarMan

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    In these passages I take visit to mean "punish on account of." I should also note that the one doing the visiting is always God. Helaman 13:10 is different on both accounts. It wouldn't make sense to say "punish you on account of your destruction." Also, God is not the subject of the sentence. It's the enemies of the Nephites doing the visiting. So I think Skousen is correct to identify this as being unique. I went through dozens of instances of "visit _______" in EEBO as well as all of the ones I could find in the KJB and the Book of Mormon and I haven't found any reason to think Skousen has missed something. There are two ways I can think of to read "visit your destruction." It could mean "cause your destruction" or it could mean "see (or observe) your destruction." "Cause your destruction" makes sense to us because we know the eventual outcome: the Lamanites completely destroy the Nephites. But I don't think this was Samuel the Lamanite's message. He wasn't saying repent or your enemies (who happen to be my descendants) are going to utterly destroy your descendants. He was saying repent or the Lord will destroy your descendants. And this destruction will be witnessed by the fourth generation of your enemies. This mention of the fourth generation is a biblical allusion as we see from several passages such as Exodus 20:5 and Numbers 14:18 (just to name two): "visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation." At any rate, God is always doing the visiting in the Bible and in the other EEBO passages I looked at when visiting means something bad. Reading this passage to mean "see (or observe) your destruction" makes the most sense. We have a parallel phrase earlier in the verse: "there shall be those of the fourth generation who shall live, of your enemies, to behold your utter destruction". The problem is that visit does not mean "see" in English and I couldn't find any early modern or modern examples where it did. However, the Latin verb viso (from which we get the words visit and vision) means both "visit" and "see." My hypothesis is that this Latin word was mis-translated as "visit" when it should have been "see" and that this mistake was influenced by the translator's knowledge that the Nephites would eventually be destroyed by their enemies (as opposed to being destroyed by an apocalyptic act of God, for example).
  15. JarMan

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    @champatsch Have you done an analysis of "visit your destruction" in Helaman 13:10? Skousen lists this phrase as one that doesn't occur in EModE. A Latin to English translation (as I propose) offers a possible explanation for this. The Latin word visent means "(they) will/shall visit", but it also means "(they) will/shall see". I propose the original Latin text used visent to mean "(they) shall see" (which in the context of the verse makes perfect sense) but the translator unconventionally rendered it "(they) shall visit". Perhaps the translator had the end in mind where the Lamanites bring about the total defeat of the Nephites.
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