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David Bokovoy

Internal Evidences For The BofA

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Please believe me when I say your approach is both dated and naive.

PS - Dan, you misinterpret both Kevin's, and my, intent, which was not to undercut or sidestep your argument. But I just won't talk to you anymore about it.

Just like the Newton/Einstein example in the linked article, when the LDS paradigm better explains the available evidence, it will supercede the current naturalistic model to which Vogel and the rest of the world subscribe.

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Dan V. writes:

I guess you haven't realized that your attachment to Kuhn is both outdated and quite irrelevant since Kuhn was wrong that paradigms are closed.

I have never argued that paradigms are closed (and I don't think Kuhn makes that argument in any case, see his "Exemplars, Incommensurability, and Revolutions," and "Revolutions and Relativism" sections in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd ed. 198-207) but rather have cited Ian Barbour's "three assertions which seem to me essential for the for the objectivity of science (1) rival theories are not incommensurable, (2) observation exerts some control over theories, and (3) there are criteria of assessment independent of particular research programmes." (Ian Barbour, Myths, Models and Paradigms: A Comparative Study of Science and Religion, 118.)

Hence, even if Kuhn claims that paradigms are closed, I do not do so. And regardless of the date, I have found that the aspects of Structure that I use (RBBM 7:2 and FR 16:1, for example) I can apply to everything I read. In all scholarship, I can always find and weigh both the constraining factors--the accuracy of key predictions, the comprehensiveness and coherence, the fruitfulness, the simplicity and aesthetics, and the future promise--and the randomizing factors--the selectivity, the subjectivity, the contextual effects, and the temporal constraints. Since all of these factors appear in all arguments on all sides of LDS discussion, none of the principles has become dated or irrelevant since I wrote those essays, even if in some cases I might change the examples I use. My use of Kuhn and Barbour always involves specific points which I can always illustrate with specific examples. I find it unprofitable to transform Kuhn or his critics into high level abstractions to toss this way and that to serve blanket dismissals.

Dan V. says

But, Kevin, what paradigm are you in? If it's just the BOM is actual history paradigm, then there is something to discuss. But if it's the BOM is real history because I have a testimony paradigm, then perhaps we don't.

Given that I have published extensively on the topic the Book of Mormon as real history, why are you asking? You know I believe it to be real history, and I already know you dismiss my testimony. You have done that often enough.

And if you were actually willing to put your paradigm at risk, instead of hunkering down behind the fortress of naturalistic assumption, and a demand for coercive proof, despite Kuhn's observation that "the competition between paradigms is not the sort of battle that can be resolved by proofs." (Kuhn 148), perhaps there would be something to discuss.

Consider how Robert Price begins his discussion of The Book of Mormon in American Apocrypha, with his "Joseph Smith: Inspired Author of the Book of Mormon." He starts by discussing discovery of the Book of the Law in 2 Kings 22, and the phenomena of pious forgery. Having established by example a paradigm of pious forgery, he eventually (18 pages later) gets around to examining something about the Book of Mormon.

Price says

"we will recognize the urim and thummim tale as a metaphor for Smith looking at America through the lens of the Bible and at the Bible through the lense(sic) of the American experience. The Book of Mormon was the inspired result, not of an ancient translated text but a creative extended metaphor... The Book of Mormon never existed as a set of golden plates in an untranslatable language either." (Price, 337-338)

How does Price come to this conclusion? "Thus far, I have been applying to the study of the Book of Mormon a technique called "form criticism" by some and "genre criticism" by others." (Price, 339). This is particularly interesting, because to this point, 18 pages in, Price has yet to address a single passage. Breathless, we continue, but rather than address the text, Price then expounds for several pages on the topic of redaction criticism, telling how Gospel writers created stories by "cannibalizing old texts to fashion new ones" (Price, 334). Breathless to see how such approaches can illuminate the Book of Mormon, we still have to wait as Price mentions various Kabbalistic methods of reading as he meanders towards an eventual encounter with the text.

Then, we get an interesting prediction: "It would take a large-scale scrutiny of the Book of Mormon, and in minute detail, to determine if there is evidence of oral, preliterary traditions underlying the stories in the book. If scholars were to conclude that the narrative of the Book of Mormon had been worked up from traditional material, this would go a long way toward vindicating the claim if the book to be based on ancient accounts of ancient events, even though such a conclusion would not fit very well the accounts given in the book of its own composition by eye-witnesses." (Price, 346)

Now, it would be nice to see some footnotes to things like William Eggington's "Our Weakness in Writing: Oral and Literate Culture in the Book of Mormon," (FARMS Paper, 1992), or John Gee "Limhi in the Library" in JBMS 1, which provided a much closer look at the accounts of composition and kinds of sources involved than Price gives, or various other literary approaches demonstrated by Alan Goff, or John Welch or Don Parry. But Price gives no evidence of having considered any LDS scholarship whatsoever. He knows something about it, having had published Mark Thomas's "The Emergence of Critical Research on the Book of Mormon" in his Journal of Higher Criticism in 1996, but Price does not even refer to that dismal essay, which is little more than a puff-piece, extolling the Metcalfe edited, New Approaches to the Book of Mormon, to which Thomas had contributed.

Price continues:

"If the Book of Mormon is the literary creation of Joseph Smith, who wrote new biblical sounding stories by combining familiar biblical vocabulary and motifs, then we may do the same sort of comparative redaction analysis on the Book of Mormon that scholars have been doing on the Bible... Joseph Smith seems to have create new holy fictions by running old ones through the shredder and reassembling the shreds in new combinations...So not only did Smith do the same sort of thing biblical writers themselves do to produce new Bible text, he even did it in the same way, as I now hope to demonstrate by turning to a specific passage in the Book of Mormon." (Price, 347).

At last, 27 pages in, we finally begin to look at the text. And of course, Kuhn proves to be not at all dated or irrelevant as we consider Price's choice of method.

"In short, consciously or not, the decision to use a particular piece of apparatus and to use it in a particular way always carries an assumption that only certain sorts of circumstances will arise." (Kuhn, 59)

"Paradigm procedures and applications are as necessary to science as paradigm laws and theories, and they have the same effects. Inevitably they restrict the phenomenological field accessible for scientific investigation at any given time." (Kuhn 60-61).

When Price finally does get around to examining the Book of Mormon, he does so in a way guarantees that his preconceptions about the text will never be tested. He presents arguments and observations that suit his preconceptions, but I cannot see how they could ever be either falsified or verified definitively. They can be assessed, however, and that makes them useful. He spends more time discoursing on the New Testament than 3 Nephi, but he engagingly looks at the 3 Nephi accounts of the visit of Christ, of the selection of apostles, and the transfiguration and the calling of the three Nephites. In all this, Price confidently describes how Smith shredded New Testament accounts from the Synoptics and from John to resolve controversies and establish authority. The validity of his approach is assumed, but never actually tested, or even assessed in comparison to other approaches to 3 Nephi, say John Welch, or Richard L. Anderson, Hugh Nibley, or certainly not Bart J. Kowallis' "In the Thirty and Fourth Year: A Geologist's View of the Great Destruction in 3 Nephi" from BYU Studies 37:3 (1997-98). Because Price's approach requires something comparable to the New Testament in order to use his method, only comparable passages emerge for discussion. Whether a reader finds his approach persuasive depends a great deal on what the reader brings by way of comparison, and, dare I say, ideology.

Along the way, Price had made a testable prediction: "The pseudepigraphist understands that he is fashioning a version of events that almost certainly never occurred. It would be the wildest stroke of luck if he chances upon an ancient reality, and he would never be able to know that he had." (Price, 326.)

But of course, Price never submits the Book of Mormon to this test. Back in November of 1953, Nibley had discussed "one of the best established disciplines in the world" as "the critical examination of written texts to detect what in them is spurious and what is genuine." He cites the standard authority on the subject, Blass, as saying, "We have the document, and the name of its author; we must begin by assuming that the author indicated really wrote it." (CWHN 8, The Prophetic Book of Mormon, 55).

Price never does this. Quite to the contrary. While he mentions Josiah and the Book of the Law, he never seems to consider that a historical Lehi would be contemporary with those events. What I find interesting, and the point of my whole digression is to compare Price's approach with that of Margaret Barker. Price knows Barker. She was listed on the Board of Advisors and Contributing Editors to his journal. He favorably reviewed The Great Angel in his journal, and ran her important essay "The Secret Tradition" in the Spring 1995 edition. And though in his Deconstructing Jesus, he dismisses her approach in a couple of sentences, his new book on The Pre-Nicene New Testament includes a blurb from her promoting the book, as can be seen on the Signature site.

Barker begins her reading of the Book of Mormon by asking, "are the revelations to Joseph Smith consistent with the situation in Jerusalem in about 600 BCE? Do the revelations to Joseph Smith fit that context, the reign of King Zedekiah, who is mentioned at the beginning of the First Book of Nephi?" "Pre-exilic Israelite Religion" in BYU Studies, 44/4 (2005), 69. She uses the events of Josiah's reform as part of the background to actually test the Book of Mormon. Price merely tells the story of a falsified document to establish a precident. To actually test the text against the context never occurs to him.

Price has insisted, as we have seen, that "It would be the wildest stroke of luck if he chances upon an ancient reality." (And compare his footnote 50, on "frequent parallels between specific Book of Mormon texts and various Jewish and Christian pseudepigrapha" which "call for a much more extensive study than is possible to even begin here." American Apocrypha, 366. It should be noted that John Tvedtnes and Hugh Nibley have begun already).

Barker performs the test and says "yes," the Book of Mormon fits that picture. She never bears testimony, and never affirmatively declares, yes, in regard to angels, plates, and translation. But she does perform the test as far as she can, and announces her reasons for the judgment. She also knows that fitting that picture is particularly challenging because "The exile in Babylon is a formidable barrier to anyone wanting to reconstruct the religious beliefs and practices of ancient Jerusalem." (Barker, The Great Angel, 12). What is also impressive to me that they very themes of transfiguration and priesthood that Price discusses in his essay are important temple themes in Barker's work. Emphatically so in the essay Price published in his own journal, "The Secret Tradition." That is, given the background that Barker provides for First Temple Judaism, we quite unintentionally, and very serendipitously have an entirely different set of reasons for the accounts of transfiguration, and other things, that Price examines via his own set of assumptions. In the world of the First Temple, the purported background of the Book of Mormon, there are some very plausible reasons for the same events that Price examines.

Back to Dan V. claims about my approach to paradigm choice:

If the criteria are the same, as you say, then the value judgements will also be the same.

Actually, to quote Will Smith for the most appropriate inflections, from the recent romantic comedy, Hitch, "Hell No!"

I have repeatedly asserted and demonstrated at length while there are criteria for paradigm choice that are not paradigm-dependent (hence, contra Vogel's depiction, I do not argue that paradigms are closed). I have also repeatedly asserted that there are no rules for applying those values. (See, RBBM 7:2, 161, FR 16:1, 299-301, Barbour, 110-116, Kuhn, 199-200.) Different people can and do apply them differently. And some people prefer to defer to other criteria, which have nothing to do with actual evidence, such some percieved Voice of Authority, or skeptical worldview.

Personally, I find a great deal that invites belief in the Book of Mormon. I have questions about some things, certainly. But I notice that most of what I have published in the past 17 years has happened because I had open questions. The open questions contributed to the significance of the answers I have proposed on various Book of Mormon topics, at least to me. Your mileage may vary, but it is your privilege to choose as you see fit. And I will continue to disagree as it suits me.

Kevin Christensen

Bethel Park, PA

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Kerry,

Actually, this shows us more of what Joseph Smith had in mind for the idea of what translation meant to HIM, and how HE uses the word. Look at his explanations when he notes there is a translation! It's concerning pictures. HOW does one translate pictures? There is no scholarly word for word, or exact literal translation (hardly the only legitimate form of translation either). Joseph is using the word "translation" here in the facsimiles to mean more of an explanation. How is this a fallacy of the catalyst theory for revelation? In *many* of the Prophet's revelations, as you well know, things are explained to Joseph, not translated from an original language, as in D&C

Actually, JS gave a mix of "explanation" and withheld "translation."

Fac. 2

Fig. 3. Is made to represent God, sitting upon his throne, clothed with power and authority; with a crown of eternal light upon his head; representing also the grand Key-words of the Holy Priesthood, as revealed to Adam in the Garden of Eden, as also to Seth, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, and all to whom the Priesthood was revealed.

Fig. 4. Answers to the Hebrew word Raukeeyang, signifying expanse, or the firmament of the heavens; also a numerical figure, in Egyptian signifying one thousand; answering to the measuring of the time of Oliblish, which is equal with Kolob in its revolution and in its measuring of time.

Fig. 7. Represents God sitting upon his throne, revealing through the heavens the grand Key-words of the Priesthood; as, also, the sign of the Holy Ghost unto Abraham, in the form of a dove.

Fig. 8. Contains writings that cannot be revealed unto the world; but is to be had in the Holy Temple of God.

Fig. 9. Ought not to be revealed at the present time.

Fig. 10. Also.

Fig. 11. Also. If the world can find out these numbers, so let it be. Amen.

Figures 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21, will be given in the own due time of the Lord.

The above translation is given as far as we have any right to give at the present time.

Fac. 3

Fig. 2. King Pharaoh, whose name is given in the characters above his head.

Fig. 5. Shulem, one of the king's principal waiters, as represented by the characters above his hand.

Whether JS was explaining or translating, he did it by inspiration. In some instances his explanation comes from his translation. This situation conflicts with the theory that JS received an independent revelation unrelated to the papyri.

Abraham 1:12

12 And it came to pass that the priests laid violence upon me, that they might slay me also, as they did those virgins upon this altar; and that you may have a knowledge of this altar, I will refer you to the representation at the commencement of this record.

Abraham 1:14

14 That you may have an understanding of these gods, I have given you the fashion of them in the figures at the beginning, which manner of figures is called by the Chaldeans Rahleenos, which signifies hieroglyphics.

Unless the catalyst theory includes a degree of deception, I don't see how it can be reasonably maintained.

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Kevin,

I have never argued that paradigms are closed (and I don't think Kuhn makes that argument in any case, see his "Exemplars, Incommensurability, and Revolutions," and "Revolutions and Relativism" sections in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd ed. 198-207) but rather have cited Ian Barbour's "three assertions which seem to me essential for the for the objectivity of science (1) rival theories are not incommensurable, (2) observation exerts some control over theories, and (3) there are criteria of assessment independent of particular research programmes." (Ian Barbour, Myths, Models and Paradigms: A Comparative Study of Science and Religion, 118.)

Kuhn isn't always consistent. But he does argue that paradigms are resistant to counter evidence, can never be disproved, and are generally abandoned, if ever, because of internal problems. Barbour, of course, rejected Kuhn's idea of incommensurability. Nevertheless, I'm less concerned about subtle philosophical points than with the way that you use them to escape the burden of proof and weaken counter evidence. In attacking the critics evidence from 19th century parallels as begging the question, you have also weakened the same kinds of parallels from the ancient world. As I explained, we are stuck with the weakest kind of evidence, because there is no direct evidence for BOM historicity.

Hence, even if Kuhn claims that paradigms are closed, I do not do so. And regardless of the date, I have found that the aspects of Structure that I use (RBBM 7:2 and FR 16:1, for example) I can apply to everything I read. In all scholarship, I can always find and weigh both the constraining factors--the accuracy of key predictions, the comprehensiveness and coherence, the fruitfulness, the simplicity and aesthetics, and the future promise--and the randomizing factors--the selectivity, the subjectivity, the contextual effects, and the temporal constraints. Since all of these factors appear in all arguments on all sides of LDS discussion, none of the principles has become dated or irrelevant since I wrote those essays, even if in some cases I might change the examples I use. My use of Kuhn and Barbour always involves specific points which I can always illustrate with specific examples. I find it unprofitable to transform Kuhn or his critics into high level abstractions to toss this way and that to serve blanket dismissals.

Whether or not you have argued that paradigms are closed, in practice--by mixing the historicity and testimony paradigms--you have closed your paradigm in a way that makes it unfalsifiable. When you talk about "constraining factors," I have found that you mean that determining which evidence matters most and which matters least is an arbitrary endeavor. But you must justify why the criteria your theory seems to satisfy is better than the criteria another theory fulfills.

Given that I have published extensively on the topic the Book of Mormon as real history, why are you asking? You know I believe it to be real history, and I already know you dismiss my testimony. You have done that often enough.

I only dismiss your testimony in assessing whether or not the BOM is real history. That's why I titled my critique of your methodology--"Testimony-Ladenness of Observation." As you recall, near the end of that essay, I said:

Christensen denies that he believes â??Kuhnâ??s thesis gives Mormon scholars permission to corrupt the scientific method with religious valuesâ? and complains that I did not quote him on this charge (p. 69). However, this charge rests more on the implications of his methodology, rather than on an explicit statement. Nevertheless, in a footnote, I quoted his 1995 statement that Ian Barbourâ??s work â??supplies the theoretical justification that I use to apply Kuhnâ??s model [of science] to religionâ? (p. 74 n. 16). In the same essay, he admitted that the apologistsâ?? paradigm includes other â??preferred, even useful and possibly true, assumptions,â? and advised fellow believers, â??We do not need to retreat from our preferred assumptions when doing our research, or living our lives, or in communicating with audiences that share those assumptions.â?6 Christensen also describes how those extra-scientific assumptions helps to overcome counter-evidence:

When confronted by different conclusions ... the best way to get perspective is to start asking all the questions that apply to a paradigm debate. Rather than focusing on a single problem ... ask, Which paradigm is better? Which problems are more significant to have solved? The Book of Mormon itself claims that the key problem to have solved is testimony.7

Christensen gives an example of how his testimony-laden observation resolves counter-evidence. Responding to Stan Larsonâ??s research showing Joseph Smith â??copied the KJV blindly, not showing awareness of translation problems and errors in the KJV,â? Christensen objects that no one knows what inspired translation entails.8 Evidently, for Christensen, being able to translate under inspiration is not only different than normal translation, but less reliable and in some undefinable way potentially able to explain away all anachronisms and KJV-dependent errors. Besides committing the fallacy of possible proof, it is a faith-based ad hoc rationalization that has no place in scholarly discourse.

The BOM can be assessed as a historical document without reference to its origins. Sure it's a translation, but an "inspired translation" should not be treated any differently than any standard translation.

And if you were actually willing to put your paradigm at risk, instead of hunkering down behind the fortress of naturalistic assumption, and a demand for coercive proof, despite Kuhn's observation that "the competition between paradigms is not the sort of battle that can be resolved by proofs." (Kuhn 148), perhaps there would be something to discuss.

This is not a battle between the naturalistic and the supernaturalistic paradigm. Even if the supernatural could be proved to exist, that still wouldn't prove the BOM true. I'm only talking about proof beyond a reasonable doubt, not absolute proof, which is what Kuhn and post-modernists prop up as a strawman (in other words, infalliblism). But if the BOM is going to be demonstrated as real history, then it has to be shown within a naturalistic or scientific paradigm.

I'm not concerned with the particulars of Price's and Barker's approaches, because they both involve observations that are theory-laden. As we have already discussed, the most that can be said for such evidence is that it is consistent with either an ancient or modern origin. The kind of evidence I would prefer would be direct, say the discovery of the equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls for the BOM. The BOM claims that they wrote the scriptures on burnable material. So there were multiple copies of the OT floating around. I'm talking about the kind of evidence the BOM leads us to expect, not what actually exists in Mayan archaeology. The point is that direct evidence is certainly possible, but for whatever reason unobtainable. Until then we are stuck with this inferior and inconclusive evidence, which makes historical and literary anachronisms (despite a possible error) the best evidence for deciding historicity.

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Hi Dan,

You said:

Actually, JS gave a mix of "explanation" and withheld "translation."

And that is Nibley's point. To Joseph himself, he used the word translation in a manner that is not meant to be literally word for word, nor even of text. In a narrow strictly literal fashion, Joseph did not translate, but in the broader sense as Willamowitz noted, (following Nibley's quote) the Prophet certainly did translate, that is, bring about the ideas from one culture to another (ours in this case). So it was a translation, but not a strict narrowly defined view of translation. Joseph wthheld nothing, but absolutely poured it on man..... giving us entire sections of books of Abraham, Enoch, Adam, and the Book of Mormon, of course....... :P

Dan V to Kevin C.:

I'm not concerned with the particulars of Price's and Barker's approaches, because they both involve observations that are theory-laden.

<_<:unsure::ph34r:

TRULY! Show me anyone, anyone at all who isn't....... honestly.......

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Dan V to Kerry:

Unless the catalyst theory includes a degree of deception, I don't see how it can be reasonably maintained.

Scientifically, of course, we would have to "objectively" wait until all returns are in (to use a line of Nibley's) about all aspects of the ancient Egyptians knowledge, beliefs, and thnking, as well as the ancient Chaldeans before we could realistically claim "deception," would we not? Our ignorance of the ancient world is not proof that Smith's insights are deception if we can't account for everything right now today. The value of archaeological and historical inquiry as well as discovery is just the nagging, bothersome view that we don't have a true full assessment yet, and what we think we know today may very well be totally overturned tomorrow. After all, the archaeological school of William F. Albright, absolutely ***brilliant*** as it was, no longer holds center stage, nor is the last word.......... The Dead Sea Scrolls new light they shed certainly shows us, according to last month's lectures by Dr. Peter Flint (the world renowned Dead Sea Scroll scholar, and main editor of the Isaiah scrolls from the Dead Sea Scrolls) which I attended, that we have fundamentally no choice but to acknowledge we have an enormous amount YET to learn of Judaism, and we have had a full 2,000 years to research it! And from both the Jewish and Christian views to boot! Saying deception after a mere 200 years is rather the wrong approach, I would propose.

After all, Margaret Barker is now on record saying that the visions of Lehi and Nephi of the Tree of Life is the GENUINE understanding of the ancient's view of the Wisdom tradition. That certainly hasn't been acknowledged or said before! There is new light coming about all the loving time Dan, we can't come to hard fast conclusions yet.......

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Kerry,

And that is Nibley's point. To Joseph himself, he used the word translation in a manner that is not meant to be literally word for word, nor even of text. In a narrow strictly literal fashion, Joseph did not translate, but in the broader sense as Willamowitz noted, (following Nibley's quote) the Prophet certainly did translate, that is, bring about the ideas from one culture to another (ours in this case). So it was a translation, but not a strict narrowly defined view of translation. Joseph wthheld nothing, but absolutely poured it on man..... giving us entire sections of books of Abraham, Enoch, Adam, and the Book of Mormon, of course.......

My point was with the mix of explanation that came from translation of characters, use of the term "translation" from the whole is rather ambiguous. So to draw such broad conclusions about what JS believed translation was from this situation is useless. While it's possible to use the word "translation" in more than one sense, JS describe the BOM as a "literal" translation. It was certainly close enough to duplicate the KJV of Isaiah, Malachi, the Sermon on the Mount, etc. Regardless, whatever JS's ideas about translation were, his "translation" of the book of Abraham and the Facsimiles were inextricably tied to the papyri. They were also wrong. So the attempt to separate JS's translation from the papyri is purely a diversionary tactic. However, I suspect you might not completely understand David's appeal to the catalyst theory.

I'm not concerned with the particulars of Price's and Barker's approaches, because they both involve observations that are theory-laden.

TRULY! Show me anyone, anyone at all who isn't....... honestly.......

That's the point with indirect evidence, Kerry, and why evidence for falsification is so important.

Scientifically, of course, we would have to "objectively" wait until all returns are in (to use a line of Nibley's) about all aspects of the ancient Egyptians knowledge, beliefs, and thnking, as well as the ancient Chaldeans before we could realistically claim "deception," would we not?

No. That's like saying you can't disbelieve in God until you have checked every corner of the Universe, or conclude Big Foot doesn't exist until ever forest on the planet is searched. The fallacy is believing that a theory has to be disproved in absolute terms before it can be rejected. It's only necessary to show that it is unreasonable.

The reason I claim that there must have been some degree of deception is that JS's translation refers to the facsimiles, which makes it extremely difficult to separate the translation from the papyri; and he pretends that he can read the writing on the facsimiles, stating that it deals with the keys of the priesthood, etc., when such is not the case. That's deception. However, I think it's possible for apologists to maintain the text of Abraham in the main is "inspired", but that JS pretended his "revelation" came from the papyri to endow his text more authority. Why? Because some of his leading men were questioning the reliability of his personal revelations.

Our ignorance of the ancient world is not proof that Smith's insights are deception if we can't account for everything right now today. The value of archaeological and historical inquiry as well as discovery is just the nagging, bothersome view that we don't have a true full assessment yet, and what we think we know today may very well be totally overturned tomorrow. After all, the archaeological school of William F. Albright, absolutely ***brilliant*** as it was, no longer holds center stage, nor is the last word.......... The Dead Sea Scrolls new light they shed certainly shows us, according to last month's lectures by Dr. Peter Flint (the world renowned Dead Sea Scroll scholar, and main editor of the Isaiah scrolls from the Dead Sea Scrolls) which I attended, that we have fundamentally no choice but to acknowledge we have an enormous amount YET to learn of Judaism, and we have had a full 2,000 years to research it! And from both the Jewish and Christian views to boot! Saying deception after a mere 200 years is rather the wrong approach, I would propose.

Undoubtedly, we don't know everything about everything, but that doesn't mean we leave the door wide open for every crackpot idea or place all theories on the same level. On the hierarchy of evidence, the BOA is certainly somewhere on the lower levels.

After all, Margaret Barker is now on record saying that the visions of Lehi and Nephi of the Tree of Life is the GENUINE understanding of the ancient's view of the Wisdom tradition. That certainly hasn't been acknowledged or said before!

Nice statement, but then I would have to include Lucy's account of Joseph Sr.'s dream in the same category as well. Unfortunately, Barker was influenced by Dan Peterson's interpretation of the Asherah. I don't see the tree of life as the virgin, but rather as Jesus. Given its thick Christian content, I would think a better comparison would be the NT pseudepigrapha.

There is new light coming about all the loving time Dan, we can't come to hard fast coclusions yet.......

Yes, on both sides of the debate! Let's not commit the fallacy of possible proof. Unless, it is direct evidence, more question-begging evidence isn't going to prove either the BOA or BOM. Meanwhile, the negative evidence rules.

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Hi ya Dan!

Great talkin with you.......

My point was with the mix of explanation that came from translation of characters, use of the term "translation" from the whole is rather ambiguous. to draw such broad conclusions about what JS believed translation was from this situation is useless.

It's not just this situation though, but the overall total of the ideas of translation. Smth called pure revelation a translation, as with the Book of John. It is your narrowing the concept and trying to force fit it to all situatons that is the problem, it appears to be to me.

While it's possible to use the word "translation" in more than one sense, JS describe the BOM as a "literal" translation. It was certainly close enough to duplicate the KJV of Isaiah, Malachi, the Sermon on the Mount, etc. Regardless, whatever JS's ideas about translation were, his "translation" of the book of Abraham and the Facsimiles were inextricably tied to the papyri. They were also wrong. So the attempt to separate JS's translation from the papyri is purely a diversionary tactic. However, I suspect you might not completely understand David's appeal to the catalyst theory.

A "literal" as in you are quotng him? Perhaps I am misinformed. His facsimiles and all their pictorial representations are not all tied to the papyri however. And he did describe some of them as a translation, i.e. INTERPRETATION, not a word for word "literal" translation. What Joseph was doing is giving us the Egyptian views, not their literal words such as "Ammon-Re," etc. This hardly means he was wrong as you contend however. Min is never identified as such explicitly, but does this prove the Prophet's ideas about him wrog? I have found him to be very close to the priciples Min stands for in his explanation. There is no attempt to create a diversion, there is an attempt at understanding what Joseph Smith meant by translation. We are using ALL the clues Joseph left to us, not just the ones which fit our own theories as apparently critics do. This is not deceptive, it is descriptive. Just because it doesn't fall into your own narrow view does not mean its deceptive. I shall get to your other points later. Thanks.

Best,

Kerry

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A "literal" as in you are quotng him?

The Title Page.

I wish to mention here that the title-page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated, the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing in general; and that said title page is not by any means a modern composition, either of mine or of any other man who has lived or does live in this generation. Therefore, in order to correct an error, which generally exists concerning it, I give below that part of the title-page of the English version of the Book of Mormon, which is a genuine and literal translation of the title-page of the original Book of Mormon as recorded on the plates...

I think Dan can't help but to miss Kevin's point, but I agree with Dan contra David re: catalyst theory.

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Kerry,

Hey, will I see you at Sunstone this year?

It's not just this situation though, but the overall total of the ideas of translation. Smth called pure revelation a translation, as with the Book of John. It is your narrowing the concept and trying to force fit it to all situatons that is the problem, it appears to be to me.

Considering his lessons in Hebrew, JS certainly knew what conventional translation was. So when he made the following statement in 1842, he knew what he meant:

History of the Church, Vol.1, Ch.8, p.71:

MEANTIME, our translation drawing to a close, we went to Palmyra, Wayne county, New York, secured the copyright, and agreed with Mr. Egbert B. Grandin to print five thousand copies for the sum of three thousand dollars.

I wish to mention here that the title-page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated, the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing in general; and that said title page is not by any means a modern composition, either of mine or of any other man who has lived or does live in this generation. Therefore, in order to correct an error, which generally exists concerning it, I give below that part of the title-page of the English version of the Book of Mormon, which is a genuine and literal translation of the title-page of the original Book of Mormon as recorded on the plates: ...

Aside from his Hebrew lessons the only "translation" JS did prior to the BOA was by revelation. So saying he translated by "pure revelation" is no indication of what kind of translation was dictated. The revelation (D&C 7) to which you refer was "translated" like the BOM was--through the seer stone in the hat. As the Book of Commandments states: "Translated from parchment, written and hid up by himself." From descriptions of David Whitmer and others, undoubtedly from JS, the characters appeared on the stone and the translation underneath. The plates lay on the table covered or in the woods. So John's parchment need not be present for JS to translate it, because it was all done by revelation any way. But that has no bearing on what kind of translation it was supposed to be.

A "literal" as in you are quotng him? Perhaps I am misinformed. His facsimiles and all their pictorial representations are not all tied to the papyri however. And he did describe some of them as a translation, i.e. INTERPRETATION, not a word for word "literal" translation. What Joseph was doing is giving us the Egyptian views, not their literal words such as "Ammon-Re," etc. This hardly means he was wrong as you contend however. Min is never identified as such explicitly, but does this prove the Prophet's ideas about him wrog? I have found him to be very close to the priciples Min stands for in his explanation. There is no attempt to create a diversion, there is an attempt at understanding what Joseph Smith meant by translation. We are using ALL the clues Joseph left to us, not just the ones which fit our own theories as apparently critics do. This is not deceptive, it is descriptive. Just because it doesn't fall into your own narrow view does not mean its deceptive. I shall get to your other points later. Thanks.
This is why I have pointed out that JS mixes explanation and translation. His explanations come from the translation of the BOA as well as writing on the facsimiles. So when he calls this blend of explanation and translation a "translation", it's unclear about what he meant. But JS still knows what a conventional translation is. So I object to taking the broadest sense of the word translation and applying it to all situations, or at least difficult situations. JS says #2 has key words of the priesthood, etc., which is not correct. That's deceptive.

Theoretically speaking: if God could use words like "eternal punishment" and "endless torment" to motivate us into repenting and staying good (D&C 19), then why couldn't a prophet use deception to encourage us to believe his revelations?

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Why couldn't the Lord use deception to teach us the truth? Why would it be so difficult to simply tell the truth in the first place? :P

And I truly am hoping to get to Sunstone.......I sorely missed being there last year.....

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Also, please do note that the "literal" translation of the Book of Mormon is not what the idea was concerning at all, but rather the Title Page of the book. That is seriously quite a difference about this being applied to the entire Book of Mormon.....

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Vogel says, with reference to my RBBM 7:2 discussion of Stan Larsen's essay on the 3 Nephi Sermon at the Temple compared to NT Criticism of Greek texts in New Approaches:

Christensen gives an example of how his testimony-laden observation resolves counter-evidence. Responding to Stan Larson's research showing Joseph Smith "copied the KJV blindly, not showing awareness of translation problems and errors in the KJV," Christensen objects that no one knows what inspired translation entails. Evidently, for Christensen, being able to translate under inspiration is not only different than normal translation, but less reliable and in some undefinable way potentially able to explain away all anachronisms and KJV-dependent errors. Besides committing the fallacy of possible proof, it is a faith-based ad hoc rationalization that has no place in scholarly discourse.

What seems "evident" to me is that Vogel has ignored the substance of my discussion. Kerry has pointed out that if we are to discuss Joseph Smith's translations, it helps to consider what Joseph Smith meant by translation, rather than impose our own preconceptions, and expectations.

And, as usual, in his determination avoid giving credit where credit is due, he seriously distorts my case. Here is the argument that Vogel was referring to. See if you recognize it.

For example, are the problems that Larson describes as the domain of textual criticism, those nuances regarding "the same distinctive addition, peculiar error, or the same alternate reading" (p. 129), really the most significant problems to have solved? Can such questions even be addressed without sure knowledge of the parameters of an "inspired" translation?

As is typical for New Approaches, Larson ignores significant matters in which the Book of Mormon gets it right. His theory of "blindness" and "plagiarism" accomplishes nothing to explain the insights of the 3 Nephi text that John Welch, Hugh Nibley, Richard L. Anderson, and others discuss. [Compare John W. Welch, The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1990), 91-112, on such matters as the absence of antipharisaical, antigentile, and anti-Pauline elements and the restoration of temple context; Nibley, The Prophetic Book of Mormon, 407-34, on the parallels to the forty-day literature in general and to a specific text; Richard L. Anderson, "Imitation Gospels and Christ's Book of Mormon Ministry," in Apocryphal Writings and the Latter Day Saints, ed. C. Wilfred Griggs (Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1986), 53-107, on contrasts with pseudo-gospels and parallels to the "pesher" teaching; Donald Parry, The Book of Mormon Text Reformatted according to Parallelistic Patterns (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1992), for distinctive poetic forms; and Christensen, review of Vogel, Indian Origins, 247-56, and Kevin Christensen, " "Nigh unto Death': NDE Research and the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (Spring 1993): 1-20, on the authentic near-death behavior and "Year Rite" patterns that supplement Welch.]

As should be obvious in reading his eight examples, most of the differences have little or no significance for meaning (pp. 121-27). Larson's case depends on the questionable claim that the Book of Mormon, purportedly an "inspired" (not an academic) English translation of an ancient New World text, should take us back to the best available Greek text of an Aramaic original: "Where the Book of Mormon could offer a fresh translation directly from the valuable fourth-century inscription of a first-century document, one finds a reaction to the late and corrupted text of the KJV" (p. 132). [Compare the reviews by John Tvedtnes and John W. Welch in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 6/1 (1994): 8-50, 145-86. See Welch for a discussion of the one change that makes a significant difference, the "without a cause present" in the King James Version of Matthew 5:22 and absent in the Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 12:22.]

However, the academic definition of translation current in Joseph's day in the 1798 Encyclopedia Britannica gave the three "fundamental rules for translations" as: "1. That the translation should give a complete transcript of the ideas of the original. 2. That the style and manner of the original should be preserved in the translation. 3. That the translation should have all the ease of the original composition."39 Joseph Smith is on record as describing an admittedly imperfect translation as "sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands" (D&C 128:18). According to the definition of translation active in the nineteenth century, the "blindness" to Old World manuscript nuance that Larson belabors does not matter.

In effect, Larson rests his case on differences which do not apply to translation by nineteenth-century standards, appealing instead to expectations that he imposes based on his twentieth-century training. He makes a creed of his academic training and refuses to make adjustments in his expectations for the Book of Mormon.

Hence, my arguments with respect to Larsen involve his ability to comprehensively explain 3 Nephi. The problem is his tunnel vision, in failing to define the problem fully by considering observations by Anderson, Nibley, Welch, and others, and his neglect of the "without a cause" that makes more of a difference in meaning than all of his examples combined. Calling my arguments "testimony laden" does nothing to explain what Joseph got right either. And I think the case has gotten more complex since I wrote that essay.

Vogel :

The BOM claims that they wrote the scriptures on burnable material. So there were multiple copies of the OT floating around. I'm talking about the kind of evidence the BOM leads us to expect, not what actually exists in Mayan archaeology.

Speak for yourself, rather than "us". I certainly do not expect multiple copies of the OT "floating around," but rather a few Nephite temple archives. They did not have printing presses. Rather, they had scribes who complain about the difficulty in writing. They lived in a wet, environment where environmental conditions and politics and 1600-2600 years would all be hostile to the preservation of texts. Even before the Spaniards burnt codices, standard Mesoamerican politics demanded the destruction of anything or anyone that might support the claims of political rivals.

Vogel says:

The point is that direct evidence is certainly possible, but for whatever reason unobtainable. Until then we are stuck with this inferior and inconclusive evidence, which makes historical and literary anachronisms (despite a possible error) the best evidence for deciding historicity.

And we are back to Kuhn, which I quoted in RBBM 7:2, in my section 1.

Paradigms differ in more than substance, for they are directed not only to nature but also back upon the science that produced them. They are the source of the methods, problem-field, and standards of solution accepted by any mature scientific community at any given time.(Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 103)

You can approach the problem anyway you like. But when I compare your results with mine, I get to consider which is comprehensively better, which is more accurate, which is most fruitful, which is simpler, which has the best future promise. It seems to me that you try to explain more with less. For example, Larsen's theory of "blindness and plagiarism" does nothing whatsoever to predict or explain what Joseph got right in 3 Nephi. And saying while it is certainly legitimate to bring in comparisons to Lucy's account of Joseph Smith Senior's dreams, Daniel Peterson's essay has little to do with most of the arguments Margaret brought the question of whether 1 Nephi fits the picture of Jerusalem in 600 BCE and what the tree would mean to someone who knew First Temple Judaism. Such failures to define the problem recurr constantly because critics consistently refuse to give Joseph Smith credit where credit is due, which is where I came in on this thread.

There is a way around the dilemma, as I also pointed out at length in RBBM 7:2, but since that involves the risk of jumping off the Post Enlightenment Positivist Rameumpton, and the responsibility to give credit where credit is due, the critics seem not inclined to budge.

The thing is, the defenders of the Book of Mormon seem to me on the whole far more willing and able to incorporate the observations of the critics into their consideration of the Book of Mormon than the critics do with the observations of defenders. To me the critics seem more inclined to totally ignore the defender's best arguments, or at best, oversimplify and then dismiss them.

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

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Kevin,

Christensen gives an example of how his testimony-laden observation resolves counter-evidence. Responding to Stan Larson's research showing Joseph Smith "copied the KJV blindly, not showing awareness of translation problems and errors in the KJV," Christensen objects that no one knows what inspired translation entails. Evidently, for Christensen, being able to translate under inspiration is not only different than normal translation, but less reliable and in some undefinable way potentially able to explain away all anachronisms and KJV-dependent errors. Besides committing the fallacy of possible proof, it is a faith-based ad hoc rationalization that has no place in scholarly discourse.

What seems "evident" to me is that Vogel has ignored the substance of my discussion. Kerry has pointed out that if we are to discuss Joseph Smith's translations, it helps to consider what Joseph Smith meant by translation, rather than impose our own preconceptions, and expectations.

You keep talking about what JS meant by translation, forgetting I suppose that he didn't know the first thing about translating "Reformed Egyptian." Remember he was the unlearned man who didn't know how to translate an unknown language. He claimed only to have read the translation from the stone. Regardless, apologists want to give the broadest definition to translation when explaining problematic evidence, and a more literal translation when introducing evidence of chiasmus and Hebraisms. If this isn't begging the question definition, I don't know what is.

And, as usual, in his determination avoid giving credit where credit is due, he seriously distorts my case. Here is the argument that Vogel was referring to. See if you recognize it. ...

Hence, my arguments with respect to Larsen involve his ability to comprehensively explain 3 Nephi. The problem is his tunnel vision, in failing to define the problem fully by considering observations by Anderson, Nibley, Welch, and others, and his neglect of the "without a cause" that makes more of a difference in meaning than all of his examples combined. Calling my arguments "testimony laden" does nothing to explain what Joseph got right either. And I think the case has gotten more complex since I wrote that essay.

Without rehashing the particulars of this debate, Larson provided the balance that was lacking in Anderson, Nibley, and Welch, who ignored or explained away problematic aspects of 3Nephi as a translation. So, of course, he didn't cover what the apologists considered hits. What you call comprehensive is whatever harmonizes all the evidence, or that which can explain away evidence that Joseph Smith "copied the KJV blindly, not showing awareness of translation problems and errors in the KJV." As I have explained, without direct evidence, it is the search for this kind of evidence that makes the proposition that the BOM is history even testable. In this situation, it is much more important to explain the many errors, rather than the few hits. The "without a cause" passage was an obvious problematic phrase that he corrected according to his notions of what was right (just like he did throughout his Inspired Bible Revision). Sometimes this turned out to be right, but most of the time they are wrong. This is similar to what happens to those who believe in fraudulent psychics. They forget the misses and remember the hits. I think the more comprehensive view gives priority to the misses as evidence that falsifies the historicity thesis. That's how a theory is tested.

The BOM claims that they wrote the scriptures on burnable material. So there were multiple copies of the OT floating around. I'm talking about the kind of evidence the BOM leads us to expect, not what actually exists in Mayan archaeology.

Speak for yourself, rather than "us". I certainly do not expect multiple copies of the OT "floating around," but rather a few Nephite temple archives. They did not have printing presses. Rather, they had scribes who complain about the difficulty in writing. They lived in a wet, environment where environmental conditions and politics and 1600-2600 years would all be hostile to the preservation of texts. Even before the Spaniards burnt codices, standard Mesoamerican politics demanded the destruction of anything or anyone that might support the claims of political rivals.

I wasn't speaking for any "us" in particular. I was talking about what the BOM leads any reader to expect (whatever that may be) as opposed to what exists in Mayan archaeology. My reference to burnable scriptures comes from Alma 14:8:

8 And they brought their wives and children together, and whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they caused that they should be cast into the fire; and they also brought forth their records which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also, that they might be burned and destroyed by fire.

Scribes who complained about difficulty in writing pertains to engraving on metallic plates, not the practice of making records on other materials. Yet, despite complaining, scribes can still make such records, apparently by the wagon loads. Nothing in the BOM that makes the discovery of textual evidence impossible. But that is not my point. My point was that there is a difference between direct evidence (such as finding a BOM or OT text) and indirect evidence. The lack of evidence might be what you say, but it might also be because the BOM isn't historical. We're back to the burden of proof again. And appealing to Kuhn doesn't change the distinction between kinds of evidence. Finding a BOM or OT text wouldn't be paradigm dependent, but making parallels and ignoring literary and historical anachronisms is.

You can approach the problem anyway you like. But when I compare your results with mine, I get to consider which is comprehensively better, which is more accurate, which is most fruitful, which is simpler, which has the best future promise. It seems to me that you try to explain more with less. For example, Larsen's theory of "blindness and plagiarism" does nothing whatsoever to predict or explain what Joseph got right in 3 Nephi. And saying while it is certainly legitimate to bring in comparisons to Lucy's account of Joseph Smith Senior's dreams, Daniel Peterson's essay has little to do with most of the arguments Margaret brought the question of whether 1 Nephi fits the picture of Jerusalem in 600 BCE and what the tree would mean to someone who knew First Temple Judaism. Such failures to define the problem recurr constantly because critics consistently refuse to give Joseph Smith credit where credit is due, which is where I came in on this thread.

I don't think deciding which is simpler, more comprehensive, etc. is as arbitrary as you think. You still have to justify why you have chosen to prefer one set of criteria over another. This will work as long as the process isn't corrupted by testimony. As I said, Barker's assessment has been weakened by your own admission that it is theory-laden.

The thing is, the defenders of the Book of Mormon seem to me on the whole far more willing and able to incorporate the observations of the critics into their consideration of the Book of Mormon than the critics do with the observations of defenders. To me the critics seem more inclined to totally ignore the defender's best arguments, or at best, oversimplify and then dismiss them.

The burden of proof is heavy indeed. You can not be too careful with books with no pedigree and no direct evidence.

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Dan Vogel:

You still have to justify why you have chosen to prefer one set of criteria over another. This will work as long as the process isn't corrupted by testimony. As I said, Barker's assessment has been weakened by your own admission that it is theory-laden.

Dan, pray tell, um, is not your own theory of tin plates a theory laden postulate, without any evidence? Is not your entire book of Joseph Smith laden with the theory (assumption?, guess?, musing? belief?) that nothing supernatural could have occurred in Smith's life?

Is not every single book you have edited, along with Brent Metcalfe, and hosts of other 19th century parallelists "theory-laden"? You appear to me to reject anything of a theory-laden nature..... in that case, you apparently really DON'T believe anything, not even your own research and conclusions? This is a most peculiar argument of yours that whatever is theory-laden is untrustworthy, and hence of no use. Am I misreading you?

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If the critics had a comprehensive theory which harmonized all the evidence in a non-ad-hoc manner consistent with the principle of parsimony we might not be having this conversation.

As it is...

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It would still be theory laden though...... :P

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Kerry,

Dan, pray tell, um, is not your own theory of tin plates a theory laden postulate, without any evidence? Is not your entire book of Joseph Smith laden with the theory (assumption?, guess?, musing? belief?) that nothing supernatural could have occurred in Smith's life?

Is not every single book you have edited, along with Brent Metcalfe, and hosts of other 19th century parallelists "theory-laden"? You appear to me to reject anything of a theory-laden nature..... in that case, you apparently really DON'T believe anything, not even your own research and conclusions? This is a most peculiar argument of yours that whatever is theory-laden is untrustworthy, and hence of no use. Am I misreading you?

My biography of JS is based on the assumption that the BOM is not historical. This assumption is based on the lack of direct evidence and the presence of historical and literary anachronisms. The interpretations therefore are thesis-laden, and interpretations are not evidence of either antiquity or modernity. The tin plates theory is theory-laden, because it flows from the assumption that the BOM is not history. If the BOM is not historical, then there were no real gold plates and the witnesses didn't have a real vision or really handle the plates. But building interpretations on the assumption of historicity or non-historicity do not produce the best evidence. That's why the burden of proof is on those affirming historicity, because only they are in a position to produce positive evidence. The best critics can do is present negative evidence and offer alternative interpretations.

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Also, please do note that the "literal" translation of the Book of Mormon is not what the idea was concerning at all, but rather the Title Page of the book. That is seriously quite a difference about this being applied to the entire Book of Mormon.....

The title page was a "literal" translation, but the rest was not? Where are you going here, Kerry?

Even given the problematic notion of understanding an English text via a purportedly (non-attested) reformed Egyptian text with (ambiguous, and certainly, non-definitive) Hebraic overlay, didn't the angel reveal that the translation was, actually, "correct?" In what way was it "correct?" Obviously, not with regard to spelling or grammar; obviously not with regard to post-1844 polytheism vis-a-vis the apparent ditheism of the Lectures on Faith.

What's your point here?

Best.

CKS

It would still be theory laden though...... :P

And the counterargument is divorced from theory--it is rather a "pure" accounting of the facts?

CKS

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The tin plates theory is theory-laden, because it flows from the assumption that the BOM is not history.

Wow. You can say that again.

In fact, I think I will:

Dan Vogel's tin plates theory flows from the assumption that the Book of Mormon is not history.

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DV:

First, if I understand you correctly, it would appear that youâ??ve answered Kerry in the affirmative:

The tin plates theory is theory-laden â?¦

And then you correctly acknowledge that:

â?¦ building interpretations on the assumption of historicity or non-historicity are not the best kind of evidence.

So far, so good. I can definitely agree with that statement.

And then you continue:

That's why the burden of proof is on those affirming historicity, because only they are in a position to produce positive evidence.

Fair enough.

So letâ??s see if Iâ??ve got this straight:

Those affirming historicity present for your consideration the testimony of eight witnesses who claim to have, in a purely naturalistic setting, seen, touched, lifted, perused, etc., a collection of metallic plates, having the appearance of gold, and bound with three â??Dâ? rings. This is undoubtedly as close as one can get to â??positive evidence,â? in the study of history, aside from actual artifacts, which would then take us into the realm of the â??harderâ? sciences.

And then, much to my surprise, you conclude with this candid admission:

The best critics can do is present negative evidence and offer alternative interpretations.

True enough, no doubt. Although, from the perspective of most reasonable observers, youâ??ve been a bit short on â??negative evidenceâ? and quite long on â??alternative interpretations.â?

Still â?¦you know, Dan, in the face of such compelling evidence to the contrary, it must be quite discouraging (both to you and to those who depend on you to formulate â??alternative interpretationsâ?) to admit that tin plates and group hallucinations are the best you can do. Iâ??m confident that a bright guy like you will yet come up with something better in the future.

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Wow. You can say that again.

In fact, I think I will:

Dan Vogel's tin plates theory flows from the assumption that the Book of Mormon is not history.

Hi Dan--

And the apologists arguing in favor of BoM historicity are arguing without regard to underlying presuppositions? Their version of BoM historicity is "pure" and "undefiled?" Or, does it depend upon the presupposition that BoM is an actual historical accounting of the ancient Americas?

Let he who is without presuppositions cast the first stone.

Best.

CKS

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Still â?¦you know, Dan, in the face of such compelling evidence to the contrary, it must be quite discouraging (both to you and to those who depend on you to formulate â??alternative interpretationsâ?) to admit that tin plates and group hallucinations are the best you can do. Iâ??m confident that a bright guy like you will yet come up with something better in the future.

Daniel Peterson.

And the best you can come up with is that the gold plates are unavailable for perusal because the angel took them back?

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Marvelous don't be silly. That's not the best we can do, but good try.

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And the best you can come up with is that the gold plates are unavailable for perusal because the angel took them back?

No, the best we can come up with is an extraordinarily solid testimony of eight men who claim to have seen, touched, lifted, and turned over several leaves (observing the writing thereon) of the plates in question. This was all done in broad daylight, in a purely naturalistic setting. And all Vogel's twisting and convoluted theorizing cannot diminish the strength of that simple testimony.

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