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David Bokovoy

Internal Evidences For The BofA

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Just in case you weren't kidding, Drone said that in response to a quote by David Bokovoy. David's quote stopped before the Rain Man part starts.

I caught that and I wasn't kidding. I also realize that David would have to give permission for me to quote him in my signature line.

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Forgive me for being slow, but are you suggesting that "Leonidas" is yet another sock puppet for "Dartagnan"/"Kevin Graham"/"X1X"/etc.etc.etc.? If so, I'm confused. I thought we idiots here were too silly, incompetent, dishonest, and ridiculous to be bothered with, too laughable for anything but contemptuous mockery, yet (if it's really true that "Leonidas" is still another pseudonym for the already pseudonymous "Kevin Graham") he plainly still wants to participate here.

Unfortunately, I'm told, I had him booted. (I must have issued the order while asleep or under anesthesia.) My motivation, sources tell me, was fear.

I am quite confident that "Leonidas" is not "Kevin Graham." For one thing, he spells too well. I've noted few, if any mistakes.

And just because he hates you only slightly more than he hates me, don't try taking all the credit for his having been banned from this board. I dished out $500! That's pocket change to a "rolling-in-the-dough" apologist like you, but it was a huge sacrifice for me in order to rid myself of a nemesis who so easily and frequently exposed me for the fool I know I must be.

Edit: Upon further review, I noted that Leonidas spelled "dependent" as "dependant," which was a very common "Graham" error. And remembering that theosis is a favorite Graham topic of discussion, I'm now wondering if indeed we do have a new incarnation on our hands.

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Forgive me for being slow, but are you suggesting that "Leonidas" is yet another sock puppet for "Dartagnan"/"Kevin Graham"/"X1X"/etc.etc.etc.?

I don't know, I was just following David's lead.

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People just love to "out" Kevin Graham.

Of course. Itâ??s addicting. Outing Kevin is kind of like playing that kidâ??s book â??Whereâ??s Waldo?â? As hard as he tries to fit in, to hide amongst the group, the truth is heâ??s really crying, â??Over Here!,â? â??look at me!,â? â??Please, somebody look at me!â?

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In his effort to belittle the significance of the Near Easternlike depiction of the divine council in the Book of Abraham Kevin Graham made the following assertion:

But Joseph Smith was particularly familiar with the Zohar and Kabbalism, where the concept of the divine council preexisted.

When I asked for a reference to support his claim that the Zohar features a Near Easternlike depiction of the divine council that may have influenced Josephâ??s views concerning this doctrine, Kevin responded by posting a link to the following website:

Kabbalism and the Divine Council

Though the website looks like it contains information that would link the Zohar with the modern scholarly view of the biblical divine council, of course it does not. The site simply discusses one personâ??s theological views who mixes Jewish mysticism with the contemporary scholarly understanding of the divine council of deities attested throughout the Hebrew Bible.

Itâ??s important for readers to know that Kevin clearly has had very little if any exposure to the Zohar. If he did, he would not have suggested that Joseph Smith may have taken his views concerning the divine council of deities from this source. Why he would simply throw out this suggestion without having even looked through the Zohar, I haven't a clue.

If the Book of Abraham had been directly inspired by Josephâ??s exposure to the Zohar, we would expect to find what Kevin suggests appears in the collection, namely references to the divine council. However, unlike the Book of Abraham which provides a retelling of the first story of creation featured in Genesis one, the Zohar does not being with a divine council story, nor does it refer to a plurality of gods. In fact, contrary to Kevinâ??s assertion, the Zohar does not feature any sort of description of the divine council.

If the Rabbiâ??s whose teachings appear in the Zohar had wished to include this theological perspective (which they clearly did not), their first opportunity to do so would have been the commentary provided on Genesis 1:26-27 in which God speaks to his council using a plural cohortative: â??Let usâ?¦ in our imageâ?¦â?

Here is the Zoharâ??s commentary on this divine council text:

â??It is written, â??The secret of the Lord is to them that fear himâ?? (Ps. XXXV, 14). That most reverend Elder opened an exposition of this verse by saying, â??Simeon, Simeon, who is it that said: â??Let us make man? Who is this Elohim?â?? With these words the most reverenced Elder vanished before anyone say him.â? The Zohar; vol. 1; Harry Sperling and Maurice Simon trans. (London: Sonciono Press, 1931), 90-91

Deityâ??s use of the plural was too mysterious for the wise Elder to explain, so he was taken up into heaven.

Now, Kevin Graham would have us believe that not only did Joseph Smith have direct access to this material, but also that Joseph created the view of the divine council of gods featured in The Book of Abraham because of his exposure to this source.

There it is. The Zohar on the divine council!

I now leave it up to readers to decide if Kevinâ??s theory is what he claims, namely â??far more credible than the scenario proposed.â?

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I just read through Bill's treatment of Joseph's lack of exposure to the Zohar from the link Dan provided.

Of course it's very, very good.

Bill is exactly correct in the following assessment:

In context it is quite clear that the Zohar makes no mention of the hierarchy or council of the gods mentioned by Joseph;155 the Zohar speaks instead of the participation of the sefirot (emanations), the ministering angels and the Shekinah (literally the "dwelling," but roughly the Holy Spirit), none of which are mentioned by Joseph. The exact antecedent of the phrase "other gods" in this passage is ambiguous. It may well be a technical term from the Old Testament referring not to the true God, but to the false pagan gods.156 Contra Owens, who claims that elohim in the Zohar refers to a plurality of gods (pp. 182-83), the term elohim has a technical meaning in the Zohar. "The name Elohim is often used for three Sefirot jointly: Binah [#3 Understanding], Gevurah [#5 Power], and Malkhut [#10 Sovereignty]."157 Another set of code names for the sefirot includes

How anyone could possibly claim that Joseph's views concerning the divine council of gods derives from the Zohar I have no idea!

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I'm going to provide a link to Shades' board in case anyone would like to follow the continued discussion. I post under Enuma Elish:

http://mormonapologetics.org/discuss/viewtopic.php?t=1591

I just read the whole thread (even I got a little nod) and it appears Mr. Graham is placing his laurels among those who would be the first to remove our legitimacy. One of the reasons I got tired of the apologetics thing a few years ago and which almost led me to complete apostasy was the constant bickering that seemed to accompany it. One reason I am back is the reasoned tone on this board.

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I just read the whole thread (even I got a little nod) and it appears Mr. Graham is placing his laurels among those who would be the first to remove our legitimacy. One of the reasons I got tired of the apologetics thing a few years ago and which almost led me to complete apostasy was the constant bickering that seemed to accompany it. One reason I am back is the reasoned tone on this board.

I'll tell you what. And I'm being quite serious here. It really has been sad to watch Kevin's demise.

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Tarski and Dude's replies simply make David's point. They are more than willling to focus on the translational issues but don't want to go anywhere near the content of the text itself.

The text is imaginative, buys into scientific falsehood like global floods and for folks like David it is vague enought to be a rorschach test.

This latter rorschach test effect is the reason that arguing over the text is hopeless. It like arguing with someone who thinks that The Lord of The Rings cryptically encodes a real story of some actual events somehow.

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Whether or not one finds the text of the Book of Abraham plausible in a scientific or historical sense; whether or not one believes it to be the actual record of the Biblical Abraham; whether or not one believes Joseph Smith to have been a true prophet or a base fraud, the fact remains that this short book produced by Joseph Smith, once one dispenses with all prejudice related to its actual origin, has definitively been shown to correspond in several quite astounding respects to other Abraham-related texts that have come to light since Joseph Smith produced his version of the record of Abraham. For those whose sole recourse is to scream â??parallelomaniaâ? from the rooftops, it is a futile endeavor to attempt to deny the correspondences that are present. To his credit, Harold Bloom at least acknowledges the simply amazing ability of Joseph Smith to â??pull these things out of a hat,â? as it were. It is the Book of Abraham (along with its cousin, the Book of Moses) that are at the root of Bloomâ??s astonishment. Joseph Smith quite simply had few, if any, outside sources from which to draw when producing his works on Abraham and Enoch. Those he might have had available to him are woefully inadequate to explain the nature and abundance of the correspondences present in his â??revelationsâ? of these two inordinately prominent ancient prophets. Indeed, in 1830 no one really even knew that Enoch was so prominent in ancient literature.

Still, fools continue to hold Joseph Smith in derision â?? as they always have and as they always will until they are compelled to confront him at the bar of God. Then, standing beside Moroni (and presumably others of the prophets) God will state plainly to them:

â?Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by [these men]?â?

Then God shall show unto them, that that which these men have written is true.

It will be a sad day for them.

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I'll tell you what. And I'm being quite serious here. It really has been sad to watch Kevin's demise.

Which of the names on that board is Kevin? :P

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Still, fools continue to hold Joseph Smith in derision â?? as they always have and as they always will until they are compelled to confront him at the bar of God. Then, standing beside Moroni (and presumably others of the prophets) God will state plainly to them:

â?Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by [these men]?â?

And yet, such a convoluted method of bequeathing these words...

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I was reminded of the scene in Hitchiker's guide when the Vogons tell planet Earth that the demolition of their planet was clearly posted in Alpha Centauri for the past 50 years.

What do you mean you've never been to Alpha Centauri? Oh, for heaven's sake, mankind, it's only four light years away, you know. I'm sorry, but if you can't be bothered to take an interest in local affairs, that's your own lookout. Energize the demolition beam. I don't know. Apathetic bloody planet. I have no sympathy at all.

The problem with the apologetic debates around here is that it takes out all the poetry. There's no story telling, just a lot of selective pedantry. Who would be willing to give their life for that?

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Posters,

Will graciously removed his post that had to do with his opinions about Kevin Graham personally. If Kevin is mentioned here, please focus it on the arguments he is advancing and not on his alleged personal life or feelings, etc.

Thank you.

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For those interested, the conversation has continued on mormondiscussions, though I've placed my final two posts.

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David,

I don't mind Mormons claiming the BOA is inspired, and drawing parallels from the ancient world as evidence for that proposition, as long as they are willing to acknowledge JS fraudulently claimed he had derived his revelation from a translation of the papyri, perhaps as a means of increasing faith in his revelations. I don't see how you can get so excited about the divine council parallel when you know perfectly well that that idea was an outgrowth of JS's Hebrew lessons and his belief that Elohim should always be translated as a plural. It's possible to have the right idea for the wrong reasons. Nevertheless, JS's concept of the council of gods--not to mention of god and gods--was different than the ancient concept of a divine council. I would think the differences would dampen your enthusiasm.

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Dan, you don't know what Joseph's method of translation was. You are still stuck with your feet in the mud stance that there could be no revelation so it has to be fraud. Did he get Enoch's designation as a lad from the Hebrew lessons, too? I would think the increasing weight of eivdence would dampen your ability to rationalize.

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Hello Dan,

I don't mind Mormons claiming the BOA is inspired, and drawing parallels from the ancient world as evidence for that proposition, as long as they are willing to acknowledge JS fraudulently claimed he had derived his revelation from a translation of the papyri, perhaps as a means of increasing faith in his revelations.

I do believe that the BofA is inspired, and as I have attempted to illustrate through several pages of posts now, I believe that the book features some striking parallels with ancient biblical tradition. In my mind, these parallels provide important evidence for Josephâ??s inspiration.

While you and I agree that the BofA itself is not an ancient document. Our perspectives differ in that I maintain that the BofA is a 19th century book of scripture produced via divine revelation given to an American Prophet of God living in Kirtland Ohio.

As you know, I really do appreciate your contributions to Mormons studies. I had a nice conversation with Richard Bushman several weeks ago concerning your biography.

One of my concerns with your approach, however, is your claim to know Josephâ??s precise thoughts concerning issues such as this. I feel that there is actually quite a bit more real evidence to suggest that Joseph believed that he had received inspiration from God and was producing a literal translation of the papyri than there exists to support a theory concerning Joseph acting as a pious fraud.

I don't see how you can get so excited about the divine council parallel...

Everything concerning the divine council excites me.

when you know perfectly well that that idea was an outgrowth of JS's Hebrew lessons and his belief that Elohim should always be translated as a plural.

I really donâ??t know perfectly well that Josephâ??s views concerning the council of gods was a direct outgrowth of his Hebrew lessons and his erroneous belief that Elohim should always be translated as a plural. No doubt, Josephâ??s Hebrew lessons contributed to the development of his views, but I really canâ??t say that his Hebrew lessons provided the impetus for his theology.

Nonetheless, it really doesnâ??t matter to me what precise natural means originally sparked Josephâ??s revelations concerning this doctrine. What matters to me is that I believe that the Prophetâ??s views are correct and that they provide an impressive link with much of what we now know to be true concerning biblical views.

It's possible to have the right idea for the wrong reasons. Nevertheless, JS's concept of the council of gods--not to mention of god and gods--was different than the ancient concept of a divine council. I would think the differences would dampen your enthusiasm.

Of course there are differences. Iâ??m interested in understanding both the similarities and distinctions. I suppose that my enthusiasm has not dampened, and in fact remains quite dry, in view of the very real fact that I still see far more hits for the Prophet than I do misses.

In fact, itâ??s really not even close.

Best,

--DB

P.S. If you haven't yet, you should really get hold of the Neil Young release!

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David, if you responded to this, please point me towards your response. Otherwise, what do you say to this?

If you take a step back from specific correspondences between Joseph Smith scriptures and acknowledged ancient texts that form the meat and potatoes of Mormon apology, you can't help but be surprised at the idea of prophethood that comes out of it all. David B says:

I believe that Joseph Smith did not create a real translation at all. I also believe that Joseph most likely believed that he had created a real translation of the papyri.

This is a kind of Rain-man, calendar-idiot take on the nature of a prophet: God works through him without bothering to tell him what he is doing, without heightening his self-awarness in any way--the prophet is delusional, but these are sacred delusions. The apostle Paul and Erasmus have mooted the saint-as-fool angle, and it seems that Mormon apologists have adopted it without reservations, without noticing the irony in these earlier treatments.

There is another, widespread view of religion, though, that takes self-awareness and the defeat of delusion on behalf of this self-awareness as the main point of it all. This view is reflected in Eastern notions of Enlightenment, but also in specifically Christian ideas of self-scrutiny--also seen in Paul, and in Augustine's Confessions, say, and their many spiritual descendants.

It seems to me that Joseph Smith is an extremely poor model for anyone who admires this second view of the religious self-consciousness. Whereas the Old Testament prophets were doing their best to enlarge the critical self-awareness of overly complacent Jews, JS's prophethood seems to rest upon his congenital lack of precisely this critical self-awareness. Why did he never say what it was he was trying to do with all his "translations"? What that is useful or admirable can we learn of religious self-consciousness from this kind of prophet?

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Hello Log,

David, if you responded to this, please point me towards your response. Otherwise, what do you say to this?

Sure.

This is a kind of Rain-man, calendar-idiot take on the nature of a prophet: God works through him without bothering to tell him what he is doing, without heightening his self-awareness in any way--the prophet is delusional, but these are sacred delusions.

As both an inspired Prophet of God and a mortal man, Joseph Smith possessed a heightened sense of self awareness. Said Joseph:

â??I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught.â? Teachings, 368.

I do not believe for a second that Joseph Smith was â??delusional.â? Critics may say what they want to about Josephâ??s revelations, but I would take issue with anyone who suggests that Joseph did not truly believe that God was speaking through him.

I happen to believe that Joseph was not delusional, that God really was speaking through the farm boy from upstate New York, notwithstanding his weaknesses and imperfections.

It seems to me that Joseph Smith is an extremely poor model for anyone who admires this second view of the religious self-consciousness.

Why? Because Josephâ??s spiritual enlightenment helped the Prophet to recognize that he, himself was not perfect but that the revelations God had given him were? How could Joseph's position present a poor model for anyone seeking religious enlightenment?

Whereas the Old Testament prophets were doing their best to enlarge the critical self-awareness of overly complacent Jews, JS's prophethood seems to rest upon his congenital lack of precisely this critical self-awareness.

Actually, as one has spent many years studying with Jewish professors; as one who currently has many sincere Jewish friends, I canâ??t help but take real issue with the anti-Semitic undertone in this statement. To describe the Israelite prophetic mission as trying to enlarge the critical self-awareness of overly complacent Jews present a gross distortion of biblical prophecy.

This is part of the reason why I had chosen to ignore this post.

Why did he never say what it was he was trying to do with all his "translations"?

He did and in the process, Joseph reveals a rather keen sense of his own self (though he admittedly presents his heightened sense of self awareness with an appropriate display of humility):

â??I suppose that I was ordained to this office in that grand Councilâ??it is the testimony that I want, that I am Godâ??s servant, and this people his peopleâ??the Ancient Prophets declared in the last days the God of Heaven shall set up a Kingdom which should never be destroyed, no left to other peopleâ?¦I calculate to be one of the Instruments of setting up the Kingdom of Daniel, by the word of the Lord, and I intend to lay a foundation that will revolutionize the whole worldâ? Joseph Smith, Words of Joseph Smith, 367.

What that is useful or admirable can we learn of religious self-consciousness from this kind of prophet?

Iâ??ll share what I learn: That drawing near to God as Joseph did, heightens an individualâ??s sense of personal self worth, while at the same time, increasing the individualsâ?? unmitigated humility and complete reliance upon a perfect God who perfectly inspires his imperfect servants.

Speaking personally, for me that knowledge has proven incredibly useful.

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David,

If you don't mind, I think the gist of Drone's post was that, given your position, Joseph thought he was doing things which just weren't so - he thought he was translating an ancient papyrus containing a record of Abraham, when the papyrus he had in reality was no such thing, for example, so he wasn't translating it in any meaningful sense of the word - and that this utter ignorance of reality coupled with the apparently false beliefs Joseph had about reality in the production of at least the Book of Abraham - this is what Drone terms "delusion" - compromises Joseph as a reliable guide to reality.

It seems this is a necessary implication of the catalyst theory, and it doesn't seem to have been adequately addressed.

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Hello Log,

It seems this is a necessary implication of the catalyst theory, and it doesn't seem to have been adequately addressed.

First I would like to clarify that for a variety of reasons, I absolutely detest when someone categorizes my beliefs into the so-called â??catalyst theory.â?

In reality, Josephâ??s use of the Egyptian papyri in the process of receiving revelation is certainly not a theory.

It is a historical fact.

We can certainly debate over the logistics concerning how Joseph received this revelation, just as we can clearly discuss whether the revelation was sent from God, Satan, or simply represents Josephâ??s own delusions, but clearly Joseph used the papyri as a catalyst for whatever it is that he ultimately accomplished.

If you don't mind, I think the gist of Drone's post was that, given your position, Joseph thought he was doing things which just weren't so - he thought he was translating an ancient papyrus containing a record of Abraham, when the papyrus he had in reality was no such thing, for example, so he wasn't translating it in any meaningful sense of the word - and that this utter ignorance of reality coupled with the apparently false beliefs Joseph had about reality in the production of at least the Book of Abraham - this is what Drone terms "delusion" - compromises Joseph as a reliable guide to reality.

Joseph Smith was a man. I donâ??t believe that there has ever existed a human being, save Jesus only, who has possessed a perfect handle on all of the intricacies of divine revelation.

Notwithstanding their various degrees of spiritual enlightenment, I would take real exception to the proposal that Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, Moses, Isaiah, or any other human being, possessed a perfect knowledge of the mysterious ways in which God actually dispenses information.

For me, the fact that Joseph Smith seems to have believed that he was receiving a literal translation of the papyri from God, when God appears to have simply used the Egyptian documents to provide his Prophet and Church with important spiritual insights, in no way diminishes the scriptural value of the Book of Abraham.

I still accept the Bible as an inspired scriptural text even though Israelite authors used the Assyrian Vassal Treaties of Esarhaddon to produce the book of Deuteronomy and an Israelite scribe used the Babylonian Laws of Hammurabi to create Exodus 20:23-23:19.

These biblical scribes even claimed that their literary creations were the very words of Moses himself, when in reality, the authors simply produced an inspired form of pseudepigraphy.

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I hate to sound like I am beating a dead horse here, but I so totally side with David B. concerning Leonidas's phony claim that the Prophet gathered his goodies on the council of the Gods via the Zohar. Bill Hamblin, as Bokovoy has also pointed out, and as has Dan Peterson, simply laid this Kabbalah argument to total REST concerning Joseph Smith's use of it. The Prophet studied Hebrew, the Zohar is clearly and firmly in Aramaic, (I KNOW this to be the case, I have the entire 23 volume Zohar in ARAMAIC) another entirely different language, even though the script is the same, or at least similar.

And if Leonidas is Kevin Graham, it's sad to see someone who once had the knack of being critical in his arguments (in the good sense, as in careful), and now he has obviously fallen for far lesser rigid approaches against the scriptures such as the Book of Abraham, as his weak Kabbalah argument goes.

Best,

Kerry

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