Thanks for providing the quote from Elder McConkie. This was very helpful.
Perhaps my wording was imprecise. In any case, we agree that Joseph believed he was restoring an original writing of Moses, a corrupted version of which survives in our present-day Genesis.
I think we need to remain open to the possibility that Joseph Smith recognized that his revisions were not restoring an original text.
In addition to the quotations I provided, the comparison between Josephâ??s explanation of the â??originalâ? version of Genesis 1:1-3 and the revision provided in Moses 2:1-3 suggests that at least by the end of his ministry, Joseph recognized that his revision of Genesis was not a restoration of the original text.
Surely the Prophet was smart enough to recognize when he explained that Genesis 1:1 originally read â??the head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods,â? that his revision of the passage did not match this wording.
If one assumes that the Prophet was simply making it all up as he went along, it would seem odd to believe that Joseph was capable of keeping track of the complex narrative details witnessed in the Book of Mormon in a way that avoided internal contradictions but was unable to remember that his revision of Genesis 1:1 did not read â??the head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods.â?
Anyone who assumes that Joseph himself was responsible for his scriptural texts needs to remain consistent. The Prophet canâ??t be a creative genius cable of avoiding contradictions throughout the Book of Mormon yet fail to recall that his explanation of the original version of Genesis 1:1 did not match Moses 2:1-3.
It depends really if you're just trying to support the modern LDS approach to the scripture, ie: the apologetic approach, or whether you care at all what the original authors actually believed and meant when they wrote their stories. If you believe that the original, ancient authors of the separate fragments actually believed in this quandary, then you should be able to support that somehow, and not just by saying hey, Joseph Smith said they did, and he would know, because he is, you know, a Prophet. This is the point, after all, of these various sorts of textual criticism, is it not?
If you don't wish to approach this sort of criticism with an open mind, interested in discovering, to the extent possible, what was meant and intended by the original authors, then why bother with it at all? Just read what Joseph Smith wrote, bear your testimony to the world that you "know" it's true, and be done with it.
Iâ??m certainly not going to argue against the importance of finding out what the original biblical authors actually believed. Thatâ??s precisely what I have devoted my academic career to discovering. Again, I believe in not only the legitimacy of the documentary hypothesis, but in its importance as tool for proper biblical interpretation.
I have even pointed out to LDS students in a variety of classes that the contradictions in the opening chapters of Genesis derive from the compilation of two separate sources. I honestly believe that more Latter-day Saints should have exposure to the insights gained from critical biblical scholarship.
Nonetheless, I refuse to accept that it is somehow â??wrong,â? as Talâ??s post suggest, for a religious group that accepts the Bible as scriptural to interpret Genesis as a literary whole. In the end, the Bible has been compiled in a way that the sources have been blended together to create a single literary unit.
Hence, LDS prophetic commentary which interprets the command to multiply and replenish the earth together with the story of Eden appropriately relies upon the text as it has actually been preserved, namely as a single literary whole.
Why are the views presented in the individual sources more important than the view of the editor/redactor who complied the sources into a single literary unit?
In other words, unlike you and Tal, both as a Biblicist and a believing Latter-day Saint, I do not believe that the issue is an either/or situation.
One can approach the text recognizing the original authors' intent while at the same time appreciating what the Bible in its current form has to offer.
Are there sharks in Rhode Island?
Well, the movie Jaws
was filmed at Marthaâ??s Vineyard. Sharks, however, are not nearly as frightening as other surfers who donâ??t know what theyâ??re doing.
Yesterday I had been up working a six foot wave for several minutes when another guy on a board decided to try and take off in front of me (this is a major violation of surfing protocol since the one up and riding has exclusive rights to the wave).
When the guy realized what he had done, he panicked and sent his board right into my knee cap. Fortunately, all I ended up with was a nice gash and a swollen knee.
The swell seems to have hit New Hampshire. Off for more today.
Happiness to all.