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Daniel Peterson

My Column in "Mormon Times"

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I can't tell, yet, whether he's going to comply.

Did he comply?

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Repeating the phrase "this people" six times in two sentences was, I thought, boring, even embarrassing, and definitely very poor style.

Even worse is Samuel addressing his audience in the third person; i.e., "this people" should be "you people". The author here is stuck in the third-person voice as a result of the momentum generated by four instances of "the people" in the preceding verses:

2And it came to pass that in this year there was one Samuel, a Lamanite, came into the land of Zarahemla, and began to preach unto the people. And it came to pass that he did preach, many days, repentance unto the people, and they did cast him out, and he was about to return to his own land.

3But behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, that he should return again, and prophesy unto the people whatsoever things should come into his heart.

4And it came to pass that they would not suffer that he should enter into the city; therefore he went and got upon the wall thereof, and stretched forth his hand and cried with a loud voice, and prophesied unto the people whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart.

5And he said unto them...

It also appears that Samuel suffers from the same repetitive speech patterns as the person telling his story.

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Even worse is Samuel addressing his audience in the third person; i.e., "this people" should be "you people".

I disagree. I think the this people is quite apropos.

The author here is stuck in the third-person voice as a result of the momentum generated by four instances of "the people" in the preceding verses:

No real problem, I think. And four occurrences over three fairly lengthy verses is considerably less striking/irritating than six occurrences within two sentences (i.e., in very close proximity to each other).

It also appears that Samuel suffers from the same repetitive speech patterns as the person telling his story.

The twice-repeated phrase doesn't seem to me particularly over-the-top, but, rather, quite similar to typical formulations in, say, classical Arabic -- an old Semitic language closely related to Hebrew.

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very interesting and helpful, I don't think very many people have contemplated "this people" v. "his people".

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Dr. Peterson are you open to request for column topics? I have always had difficult time being interested in the Doctrine and Covenants, as in my limited experience it seems much of it is directed to specific people so I figure, "what does instructions to so and so have to do with me", so I don't read it. Other than 76, 98, 89, 132, 19

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So far, so good.

I spoke too soon. I received another one of his insulting messages earlier this evening.

It came at the end of a very, very long day on which, for particular reasons, it was even more jarring and offensive than it would otherwise have been.

Dr. Peterson are you open to request for column topics? I have always had difficult time being interested in the Doctrine and Covenants, as in my limited experience it seems much of it is directed to specific people so I figure, "what does instructions to so and so have to do with me", so I don't read it. Other than 76, 98, 89, 132, 19

I'm always open to suggestions. (I'm committed to 52 of these per year, so ideas are welcome.)

I can't guarantee, of course, that I'll take all suggestions, but please feel free to offer them.

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My suggestion: Individual applicability of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Now there's a good suggestion, frank! I second the nomination!

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I spoke too soon. I received another one of his insulting messages earlier this evening.

I still spoke too soon. Another one arrived, a few minutes later.

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I still spoke too soon. Another one arrived, a few minutes later.

My evil side suggests forwarding the correspondence to his bishop and having his mental health evaluated, but of course, you should not listen to my evil side.

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I still spoke too soon. Another one arrived, a few minutes later.

Just curious, what is it that's so "massively insulting" and "really, really nasty" about these heartland-model emails?

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Just curious, what is it that's so "massively insulting" and "really, really nasty" about these heartland-model emails?

Perhaps they are making personal remarks about Dr Peterson, rather than focusing on the actual content of the alternative theory.

IOW, maybe they aren't "heartland-model emails." Maybe they are nasty, insulting emails that just happen to come from a parochial yankee.

Regards,

Pahoran

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Delusion doesn't account for Joseph Smith. Nor, it seems, does dishonesty.

That leaves the very challenging third option: Joseph was a sane man, declaring what he sincerely believed to be the truth.

(bold added)

This reads like you have reopened the door on the possibility of delusion after having just closed it.

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If he's sane, he's not delusional.

I was wondering why you concluded that Joseph declared "what he sincerely believed to be the truth" instead of simply saying that he declared the truth. The "what he sincerely believed" part sounds like you're hedging your bets and undermining the (convincing) argument you had just finished making against his being sincere but deluded.

edit: By the way, I appreciate the article. I agree with it, and my concern (if one can call it that) may be nothing at all if, in fact, you did actually intend to convey that the remaining option is that Joseph told the truth, period.

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I was wondering why you concluded that Joseph declared "what he sincerely believed to be the truth" instead of simply saying that he declared the truth.

Because I was being very conservative, and deliberately understating what I believe to be the case.

The "what he sincerely believed" part sounds like you're hedging your bets and undermining the (convincing) argument you had just finished making against his being sincere but deluded.

edit: By the way, I appreciate the article. I agree with it, and my concern (if one can call it that) may be nothing at all if, in fact, you did actually intend to convey that the remaining option is that Joseph told the truth, period.

I was trying not to go beyond the evidence I had presented:

He wasn't crazy or delusional.

He wasn't dishonest.

Therefore, he was reporting what he honestly and sanely believed to be true.

That's a really big conclusion, in my view. Quite enough for a short newspaper column.

But readers are entirely free to go beyond that, as I do, and to conclude that what he was claiming was true.

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Because I was being very conservative, and deliberately understating what I believe to be the case.

I was trying not to go beyond the evidence I had presented:

He wasn't crazy or delusional.

He wasn't dishonest.

Therefore, he was reporting what he honestly and sanely believed to be true.

That's a really big conclusion, in my view. Quite enough for a short newspaper column.

But readers are entirely free to go beyond that, as I do, and to conclude that what he was claiming was true.

Logically, if he wasn't delusional, and he wasn't dishonest, then what other conclusion could there be to warrant the "what he sincerely believed to be" caveat? Was he the victim of an elaborate hoax? Have you unintentionally revealed your hand about what, in your mind, presents a credible threat to the Joseph Smith story: a Moroni suspended by horse hairs? Let it all out, man. There is no judgement here.

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As someone who has read a lot from the critics, who can make Joseph appear as the most vile person, who ever lived, I always appreciate reading your more measured comments, Dr. Peterson. I have run the gamut, with Joseph Smith, believing he was a prophet of God, to wondering (actually, worrying) that he was really a terrible person. I guess, I am somewhere in between, right now.

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Logically, if he wasn't delusional, and he wasn't dishonest, then what other conclusion could there be to warrant the "what he sincerely believed to be" caveat?

There was no caveat. I simply prefer to be conservative and, if anything, to understate rather than to overstate.

Was he the victim of an elaborate hoax?

That's a logical possibility, although it seems to me extraordinarily improbable.

Have you unintentionally revealed your hand about what, in your mind, presents a credible threat to the Joseph Smith story: a Moroni suspended by horse hairs? Let it all out, man. There is no judgement here.

No, I have no secret alternative theory.

As someone who has read a lot from the critics, who can make Joseph appear as the most vile person, who ever lived, I always appreciate reading your more measured comments, Dr. Peterson. I have run the gamut, with Joseph Smith, believing he was a prophet of God, to wondering (actually, worrying) that he was really a terrible person. I guess, I am somewhere in between, right now.

Thank you.

Have you, by the way, read Richard Lloyd Anderson's Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses?

John Welch's Opening the Heavens?

Mark McConkie's Remembering Joseph?

Grant Hardy's Understanding the Book of Mormon?

John Welch and Larry Morris's Oliver Cowdery?

Helpful books, I think.

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Thank you for the references, Dr. Peterson. I haven't read any of those. I'll have a look.

I've read "Rough Stone Rolling" by Bushman, and some of Joseph's journals.

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Well, that first book, about Book of Mormon witnesses, is on Kindle and I have downloaded it and am reading it, right now.

I love my Kindle! :)

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Just remembered that I did read "Opening the Heavens", when I first joined the church (ten years ago). I had forgotten, until I saw the book cover. That was a pretty amazing book.

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There was no caveat. I simply prefer to be conservative and, if anything, to understate rather than to overstate.

I can understand understating an opinion, but you understated the conclusion of a logical exercise. It would be odd to suggest that 2 + 2 = 3 in order to, I presume, be gentle with those who still might believe that 2 + 2 = 2.

But I take it back! We are in agreement that a hoax is, indeed, a logical (albeit "extraordinarily improbable") possibility, and your caveat (or whatever) is warranted.

I just realized I sound a bit scratch-like. Sorry.

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