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Brant Gardner

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About Brant Gardner

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    Separates Water & Dry Land
  • Birthday 10/11/1951

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  1. Stop making assessments of my faith. You are not my Bishop, therefore not qualified. Second, my understanding is based on historians, not anonymous Internet denizens. Reeve, Rex C., Jr., and Richard O. Cowan. “The Hill Called Cumorah.” In Regional Studies in LDS History: New York and Pennsylvania. Edited by Larry C. Porter, Milton V. Backman Jr., and Susan Easton Black. Provo, Utah: BYU Department of Church History and Doctrine, 1992, 73: The point therefore remains, if Joseph didn't use the name, it is difficult to believe that he received it by revelation and forgot to use it. If others called it Cumorah, but Joseph didn't, then where did the idea come from? Only Joseph received revelation on the subject that was binding for the church--so we have no revealed name. What do the scriptures say? Joseph didn't receive the name by revelation, but it appears that he adopted it late based on communal use. That is what happened with the phrase "urim and thummim" being applied to the interpreters. We have a more solid history on that phrase, but the process appears to be the same. Someone other than Joseph came up with a designation, and after many Saints had adopted it, Joseph did as well--but after a long time had passed. Mormon says that he did not bury the plates he gave to Moroni in the hill Cumorah. So the second part of the problem is where we have any evidence that the plates Joseph took out of the hill in New York were ever in Cumorah, since the only scriptural text we have says that they were not buried in Cumorah.
  2. Asking for a source does not suggest that I am inviting you to insult or question my faith. Please stop. Second, you will remember that I asked for an early source. 1842 is not early. As I noted, Joseph did eventually use the term, but well after it had become accepted shorthand. Thus, DC 128 continues to underscore the argument I made, and does in no way support your position. Joseph did not call it Cumorah until late, and 1842 is late. If Joseph didn't call it Cumorah until long after others did, why do you think that was? If he knew it was Cumorah, why didn't he say so and why wait until the Saints decided if for him?
  3. Please provide evidence that Joseph Smith, himself, indicated that the NY hill was Cumorah prior to the Wentworth letter. What did he call it, and why wasn't that name Cumorah? If you are going to claim it, please provide evidence. LDS historians working for the Church History Department couldn't find any early use of Cumorah by Joseph--even when he referred to the hill directly. Can you?
  4. Quite right. You, and others, are supposed to read my mind and fill in what my fingers forget to add. Thank you.
  5. I would never dismiss it without evidence. They provided their evidence and their descriptions. We have the information they left us, and we have further studies on the history and languages and cultures of these peoples. It is on the basis of that information that I judge them. For example, Boudinot described a chant that was, to him, very clearly Hebrew--but they changed an oddly Anglicized Hebrew. Basically, he didn't understand their language, or Hebrew. He heard what he wished to hear. That is corroborated by historical linguistics on the native languages. Those who learned their languages have much to tell us, but they tend not to be the ones who left the records that show the miraculously Hebraic traits. However, based on Central Mexican evidence, even some who spoke the language modified what they learned through their own religious understanding. That information comes after comparing what they wrote with native records rather than Spanish writings. So, you are right to ask how we can doubt. The answer is that it comes down to better information, much comparison, and much study. It is not done lightly, and only after evidence leads in that direction. Not all have vanished. There are some lost languages, but many were recorded. In some cases, we have better information than was then available. As I noted above, it is a combination of the kinds of evidence available, and in some cases, inference based on the locations where we have better evidence to be able to pull apart the types of European records that were kept. The answer to why we might have better information today is simply that we actually have more, and in many cases, better information. We also have information that lets us know how those early European writers altered the material they collected. That is true. Unfortunately, that is also true of those who wrote in the 1800s. Just because they wrote it does not mean it was correct. The final answer lies in a greater body of comparative evidence. To be clear, the Book of Mormon says that there were some people from Jerusalem who came. It does not describe all of the inhabitants of the Americas. There is ample evidence that there were more non-Hebrew descended peoples here. We might be able to claim up to 100 Hebrews, and they arrived in a land (no matter where you think it was) that was already inhabited by a large number of non-Hebrews. Combine that with the way that culture typically moves in cases of cultural contact, and there is little chance that much identifiable Hebrew culture or language would survive the over 1000 years from the destruction of the Nephites to the coming of the Europeans. Mind you, I firmly believe that the Book of Mormon is historical, but by believing it is historical I must also believe that the people acted in ways typical of humanity in history. There are those who do believe that there were Hebrew holy stones. None of those who believe such things are trained in appropriate fields. Those who know archaeology and linguistics (and modern history, for some of the inscriptions were copied from modern documents, including errors, as I recall), believe them authentic. Much as I would love to have authentic evidence of Hebrew from Book of Mormon times, all of these are fakes, and even were they not, are way too late. The Book of Mormon was certainly created by a literate people. There is no evidence of literacy anywhere in the New World outside of Central America. I am aware that there are those who have claimed that there is evidence, but again, there is no one with the training to understand the evidence who makes that claim. You may believe, based on what you have been told, that it is not true that there was no writing in North America. Unfortunately, the information you have received is incorrect. It is utterly without evidence, and often presented in such a way to not present the reasons why it is incorrect. For example one example shows an alphabet from native Americans--but it is an alphabet created by a French priest. The name and time is known, but those who use it as evidence neglect to provide the full information.
  6. Provenancing I believe I remembered. Dating is questionable.
  7. I am an employee (part-time) with Book of Mromon Central. I am a volunteer with the Interpreter Foundation. Neither association has anything to do with the reason why I said that you can't trust books from the 1800s about archaeology. That information came independently from reading modern archaeologists who have done work in the area. This is their professional opinion, which I am passing on. Having see the evidence they present, and knowing much of the history behind things written in the 1800s, I do support their professional opinions. They are neither employees nor volunteers for either Book of Mormon Central or the Interpreter Foundation. You did say the words "conspiracy theory," you simply accused members of the manual committee of conspiring to hide information from the brethren and promote ideas that the brethren would not approve. You have no evidence for any of that, save that you think it happened. Having met many members of the manual writing committee a few years back, I must say that I could not see them as other than completely faithful, and in particular, they mentioned how hard they were trying to follow directives from the brethren. You have maligned some faithful members without evidence. We both agree that Oliver was a good man, and important in the early Church. I would strongly disagree that saying that he was a human with an opinion equals denigrating him. As for proving your point, you haven't proved anything. You have reiterated your arguments without engaging the evidence to the contrary. To summarize: 1) Oliver said the NY hill was Cumorah. 2) There is no evidence that he learned that from Joseph, and it is further unlikely because Joseph did not use that name until over a decade later, when it had become common. 3) Although Oliver was an important figure, there is no evidence that he had a direct revelation from Moroni or anyone else. In fact, such a revelation for the church would be contrary to what Joseph would later establish as the rule of the church in the Hiram Page incident. No evidence for revelation, and some contraindications. 4) It could be Oliver's opinion. That would certainly fit, but Oliver's opinions are not the same as revelation. They are to be considered, but not canonized. What evidence do we have that Oliver's opinion might have been mistaken? 1) Mormon said that the plates he gave Moroni were not buried in the hill Cumorah (Mormon 6:6). Thus, there is no record that the plates were ever in the hill Cumorah. Logic says that since they were not in Cumorah, Cumorah could not have been the hill from which they were taken in NY. 2) All geographic and archaeological evidence contradicts the NY hill as being a Book of Mormon-described location. We might posit that God erased all such evidence, but that is difficult special pleading. I repeat, you have not proved your point on any of these issues. No, it doesn't say that. The Joseph Smith Papers introduction to the letters says that when they were to be printed in the Millenial Star that Joseph would assist, but that is very different from declaring that everything is under Joseph's direction and approval. You have a different opinion that do historians for the Church. This is particularly true when the find errors in Oliver's letters. Assuming endorsement from the statement that Joseph offered assistance oversteps both the statement and the subsequent evidence of errors in the letters. In 1834, Oliver Cowdery was still scribe for the Church with the “gift of Aaron” as mentioned in the the D&C, to be a spokesperson for the Prophet. Joseph Smith wanted the Eight Letters included in his personal history which is why they are in the Joseph Smith Papers. Since I have said nothing of this particular issue, you have again overstepped the actual arguments. In this case, the very fact that Olivcer wrote a letter to respond to an anti-Mormon publication cannot be used as evidence that everything he said was absolutely correct. It can certainly be said that it was his opinion, and that he was defending the Church. That is very different than asserting that every single statement is accurate--particularly when historians well-versed in Church History disagree. And? Is there a reason why believers in the Book of Mormon should not study it, or that they could not be correct in their interpretation?
  8. Please accept the fact that I am a better source of what I mean to say than you are, and I do not appreciate your particular twist on what I said. What I said is that in the pre-modern age, there were a lot of people who wrote things that have never been corroborated, and have, in fact, been contradicted by better and more qualified methods. It is a simple thing for you to do what many have, which is to actually look at the modern literature, to see that I have not misstated the case. Was Joseph speculating? How about when he also included the natives of Central Mexico as Lamanites? What about the fact that much of the Wentworth letter was borrowed content, and might not represent only what Joseph thought? What about the fact that Joseph never declared any exclusive knowledge of where the Lamanite remnant might be, and appears to have included the entire continent--something that seems justified by the way that people who knew him interpreted his teachings. Now, why was that statement removed from the 2007 Priesthood manual? Ah. I understand now. Conspiracy theory. Of course Church employees dupe the General Authorities. Otherwise, how could the General Authorities ever approve anything with which you disagree? Please read the church essay on DNA and the Book of Mormon, an essay vetted by the those General Authorities. It should be easy to see that they approve of greater caution in the statements that are made. Yes, he was. In case no one has noticed, Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith are two different people, and no one has ever sustained Oliver as the prophet for the church. It becomes an important question of how Oliver got the information that the NY drumlin was Cumorah. The best source would have been Joseph Smith. Unfortunately for that hypothesis, Joseph himself did not refer to the hill by the name Cumorah until over a decade later when it had become a common appellation. Until that time, he did not use the name when referring to the hill. One would think that if Joseph knew that the NY hill was Cumorah, he might have said so. He didn't, even when he had the chance. That seems to remove Joseph as the source for Cowdery's identification. What about revelation? That might be possible, since Letter VII includes a 1,000 word quotation of something Moroni said to Joseph--six years before Oliver knew Joseph. Perhaps that was authentic, but there is no way to know how much literary license is included, since (again) we don't have Joseph's corroboration. We never have Joseph endorsing Letter VII. So, is there any evidence that it wasn't Oliver's speculation, in face of the evidence that it was? Since I am unaware of either Joseph or Oliver speculating, or even discussing, the concept of two Cumorahs, this is a red herring argument. That goes for your repeated statement that this idea originated in the RLDS Church. That is certainly the first appearance, but why does that invalidate it? Did no one in the RLDS church believe in the Book of Mormon? Was it impossible for them to think clearly because they believed in the Book of Mormon, but not Brigham? That is worse than a red herring argument. It is really insulting to those in the RLDS community (and branches continuing today) who revere and accept the Book of Mormon. As opposed to those who pander Book of Mormon geographies for profit? The Church itself accepts donations which are tax free. Be careful of the brush with which you paint. And you have embraced an older concept that was quite popular, but fails in terms of geography, history, agriculture, geology, and population sizes. Personally, I like Joseph's and Brigham's ideas that truth may be found in many places, and where true, we believe it as well. Since the inception of the Mesoamerican model, there have been numerous clarifications and refinements. The process hasn't ended. However, the reason that those who have degrees and experience in archaeology and history, and geology, and demographics all prefer the Mesoamerican hypothesis (when they express an opinion), is that the evidence leads to that conclusion. We are not speaking of speculation, but rather evidence. Please stop accusing people who believe in the Book of Mormon of being apostate. That is not your position to judge.
  9. Beginning with a question that I didn't copy, yes, there is no proof. As for evidence, it depends upon the nature and quality of the evidence, and that leads us to the quoted material. It is absolutely true that there have been entire books dedicated to the topic. You see that the ones quoted are from the 1800s. You will find that most of them are. That was an era that preceded serious and careful archaeology, and is an era known for speculation and sometimes imaginary evidence. For example: 1) language: there were many attempts to show that native american languages were related to Hebrew. None can pass a modern linguistic test. These were people making connections without understanding. 2) traditions: this is complicated because the way that the traditions are recorded certainly make it seem that there must have been some similarity. However, in Central Mexico where there were native documents written in European script soon after the conquest, there is enough evidence to compare native traditions with what was said about them. What was said about them is what is most obvious in similarity--and very similar to the themes we see in South America and North America. That is, when the Europeans encountered the natives, there were similar ways in which they understood native traditions. The evidence of Central Mexico tells us that they misunderstood and recast the traditions into the European Christian (and conquest-affirming) interests. 3) Customs and habits: Ethnographers do not find what the earlier books said was so obvious. 4) religious rites and ceremonies: These are also interpreted through the writers' lens and not authentic descriptions. 5) public worship and religious opinions and prejudices: these follow the same rules of contact and reinterpretation as see for the legends. In the 1800s there were a lot of obvious similarities, but those similarities were the result of intentional recasting as part of the descriptions. More careful archaeology, history, and linguistics have shown that anything from the 1800s is questionable. We know we are supposed to be careful of what we see on the Internet, and books in the 1800s were the day's Internet.
  10. This is quoted from oklds that Tajara quoted above. I am not aware of any means of dating the metal itself after smelting. Metals are dated stratigraphically according to what is found around them, but I am suspicious of the claim of dating. It cannot mean C-14 dating, because it was never alive to have the measurable carbon. If someone knows what method might be used to date smelted metal, please let me know.
  11. All of this is true. That doesn't mean that there weren't changes to italicized words. They were not consistent, but they are sufficient in number to indicate that the translator paid some attention to them. The next problem is what happened after attention was paid. There was often an attempt at removal, and that required the insertion of new words--or sometimes incomplete thoughts--or places where the sense of the scripture was altered. It is not a dismissal of the issue to indicate that the changes didn't happen all of the time. We are still required to deal with what happened when it did occur. Whoever made the changes did so without consultation of the original languages, and often without understanding the English meaning of the larger passages in which the changes were made. Even if we accept that Joseph didn't do that, we have to find some way in which some translator did, and did not make appropriate corrections.
  12. The reality is simple: the Lord transmitted a modified biblical text to Joseph in 1829, who then relayed that to his scribes. There are two processes are work. One is what evidence we have for the way Joseph translated (or a different translator translated) and the second is how he saw what he saw. Although idiosyncratic certainly explains how Joseph saw a page with italics and interacted with it, it is only slightly less unusual than positing that about 20-30 words appeared on a rock. Joseph saw--something. What it was, and how it got there, is a question. However, neither of those are questions of translation. The fact of the emphasis on italics is an important indication of the process. That the process did not change when Joseph shifted to translating the Bible is evidence that must be accounted.
  13. This makes an interesting test case for your assumptions and methodology. One is the assumption that since you can't see any other way Joseph could have done it, that means that he didn't do it. That is possible, but it isn't a strong argument. For example, if we look at most of the changes in the biblical quotations, we find those same changes in the work on the Bible later. Thus, at a time when we have other evidence that there wasn't a lot of revelatory assistance going on, we find exactly the same changes. That suggests that the "Joseph couldn't" argument is inherently weak. It is precisely in the changes to the biblical passages where we have the strongest evidence of an interaction with the text. In the case of the emphasis on italicized words, the changes often make more difficult readings (without any theological impetus). Whoever made those changes, they did not fully understand the reason for the italicized words, and the ways in which they were changed often make for a more confused reading. Even in other places, the changes are often narrowly focused, and are based on the interpretation of the verse separate from the larger context. I am quite fascinated that your explanation for the reading of "wherefore" is that there is a persistence of meaning. I don't doubt that the "why" meaning of "wherefore" persisted. That isn't the issue. It is that that the wrong meaning informed the change in the text. Without misunderstanding the archaic meaning, we wouldn't have that particular change. That runs counter to your suggestion that the translator had particular expertise in archaic forms. In this case, the lack of that expertise created an altered reading that is unnecessary and arguably incorrect. If you see from my previous post that I have changed my idea of how things happen, I suggest that you might be one who missed the original idea. That explanation is precisely what I intended, but most readers have missed it. I take responsibility for not explaining it better. Nevertheless, it isn't a change. What I am suggesting is that in the normal generation of language, the brain processes meaning into syntax and vocabulary. Any translator who is not attempting a word for word, very literal (and usually difficult to read) translation, translates into a target language the meaning of the source. That process has the intermediate step of understanding, which generates the syntax and language that are available to that person. That is not the equivalent of revealed words. If I am translating a document from a source language, and the meaning is (in English, of course) "my house," I could translate that as "mi casa," "mi hogar," "nocal," --or any other set of words, depending upon the target language and the emphasis placed. If I am translating from nahuatl, I cannot have a direct term for green or blue, because nahuatl has only one term for both. In English, I am going to make a choice. There will be hints as to what I should choose, but I will also lose some possible intended ambiguity if the original used the color symbolically. Understanding can generate words, but it does not dictate specific words. The translator chooses them.
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