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Nathair/|\

On the earliest manuscripts of the Bible

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In making an accusation such as this, I think it wiser to err on the side of caution especially if one has to make assumption after assumption to make the RCC fit the description (the time period involved is a huge obstacle and the concept being taught of only two churches existing opposed to each other).

I see a very specific, linear time frame to Nephi's vision. And in that context the timing of deliberate corruption of the "gospel of the Lamb" (i.e. the Bible) fits only the RCC.

The timing of "two churches only" is overarching: all of human history divides along the same line: those who love God and those who love this world more.

There have been individuals or even groups in the RCC that at times have promoted some of the requirements of the GAC for their own personal benefit, but at no time was such official teachings nor was there any time that all RCC members went along with this.

I find your conclusion to be very lacking in actual historical knowledge and instead appears to be based on prejudice and antiCatholic sentiments and propaganda.

Funny! I am the antithesis of antiCatholic. And wherein does my position address "all RCC members"? I consider them victims of deliberate tyranny and subterfuge.

My "conclusion" seems to have been waylaid. It is: that there was no Great Apostasy. Simple enough? I am asserting that the BofM's claim that there was, and that some GaAC was to blame is evidence that the book is the creation of an early 19th century bucolic American religious mind; which if anything DID possess a directly anti RCC prejudice: that mind lacked historical nuance which simplified all the "catholic" denominations into a single GaAC, the Roman one that created our Bible.

I do believe that scripture revisionism was ongoing in the centuries before and after the rise of Christianity. Jewish scripture revisionism directly addressed Christianity, which had initially been nothing more than a heretical offshoot of Judaism. And the various disparate sects of primitive Christianity, as was natural and unavoidable, each created its own specialized "brand" of the scriptures; often directly refuting a perceived set of rivals in the process. Mormonism is just the latest successful rise of the Judeo-Christian religions; with its own set of scriptures (trumping all earlier scriptures by being directly revealed through divine intervention) it defends its claim to be the "restored gospel of the Lamb in purity and fullness", etc. You can hold Mormonism up as a mirror on the past: 2K years-plus of scripture creation and revisionism.

...(Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 137

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How has your misinterpretation of "targum" produced any "light"? I pointed out how even from a purely secular POV Palmer's misuse of terminology fails to hit the mark. Indeed, it could only obscure the issue.

Enough of this. You've caused me to go do the thing which I dislike intensely: looking for a specific quotation in a book I read years ago. But fortunately I found it.

In fact, Palmer does not use the word "targum"; he quotes a "Krister Stendahl, at the time dean of the Harvard Divinity School, [who] wrote of the Bible's influence on the Book of Mormon:

"The biblical material behind the Book of Mormon strikes me as being in the form of the KJV [King James Version]. ... I have applied standard methods of historical critics, redaction criticism, and genre criticism. From such perspectives it seems very clear that the Book of Mormon belongs to and shows many of the typical signs of the Targums [interpretations or paraphrasings] and the pseudepigraphic recasting of biblical material. The targumic tendencies are those of clarifying and actualizing translations, usually by expansion and more specific application to the need and situation of the community. The pseudepigraphic, both apocalyptic and didactic, tend to fill out the gaps in our knowledge about sacred events, truths, and predictions ... It is obvious to me that the Book of Mormon stands within both of these traditions if considered as a phenomenon of religious texts." (the footnote reads: Krister Stendahl, "The Sermon on the Mount and Third Nephi", in Reflections on Mormonism, Judaeo-Christian Parallels, ed. Truman G. Madsen (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center, 1978), 149, 152.)

Ah, the mighty Webster. Poor Philip R. Davies must be chopped liver.

"Targums are Aramaic translations, sometime literal, sometimes free, of the Hebrew text.. A good deal of additional explanation is still found in the targums, allowing us to see where the scriptures were felt to need amplification and clarification.

Targum, as we see in the following selection, is no mere translation but serves as a hedge between literal statements and the meanings they ought to have." (The Blackwell reader in Judaism, pg. 39-40)

Are you agreeing with me now?

Yet because he incorrectly uses (and no doubt understands) the term "targum" he comes nowhere near an accurate description.

If there is any confusion it is my faulty memory. I hope that I have clarified sufficiently to put an end to this useless sidebar....

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Have you ever read a 1st edition Mormon Doctrine? My parents-in-law have one. Bruce R. specifically states the RCC to be THE GaAC spoken of. It is rather common knowledge that the First Presidency required that to be amended to what you have quoted.

Exactly. He was corrected and accepted the correction as demonstrated by his changing the entry.

It makes not sense to state the RCC as the GAC as somehow doctrinal or a correct interpretation when even the individual most often cited these days for supporting that view believed this was wrong (as demonstrated by his personal correction).

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I am asserting that the BofM's claim that there was, and that some GaAC was to blame is evidence that the book is the creation of an early 19th century bucolic American religious mind
If this is your intent, then you need to demonstrate that the list of requirements matches the perception of the "early 19th century bucolic American religious mind" you are thinking of which I do not recall you doing, if you have please provide the post number.

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Exactly. He was corrected and accepted the correction as demonstrated by his changing the entry.

It makes not sense to state the RCC as the GAC as somehow doctrinal or a correct interpretation when even the individual most often cited these days for supporting that view believed this was wrong (as demonstrated by his personal correction).

You are missing the point: Joseph Smith understood the RCC to be specifically the GaAC; the BofM clearly identifies it as such. This sentiment was popular where and when Joseph Smith lived. He was simply confirming what his religious training had taught him to believe. Only modern sentiments not wishing to insult Catholics has drawn Church policy away from the original intent of the Nephi vision. This political correctness has been "fueled" by more clear understanding by Mormons of religious history; which disallows the Nephi vision's simplistic, broad-brushing approach to prophecy. The apologist's approach is now to interpret the GaAC as a movement spanning the ages and including all who belong to the church of the devil, i.e. those who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ in favor of the ways of the fallen world.

"We", that is the modern LDS people, accept an interpretation completely different from that of Joseph Smith and his intent when he has the BofM say: "Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth." As the 1838 "First Vision" (the "canonized" version in the Standard Works) makes clear; ALL other religions are abominable to the Lord because they teach the doctrines of men, i.e. apostate doctrines. Our modern interpretation is to lump all voluntarily wicked people into "the church of the devil", i.e. all who reject religion, mock it and even fight against it, etc. Whereas ALL those who believe in Jesus Christ, to whatever degree, and try and live a good life and believe in God, are part of the "church of the Lamb of God". Joseph Smith did not believe this or teach it; not as late as 1838 or 1843; and certainly not as early as 1820 or 1830: to his Protestant educated mind, all of Christianity was wandering in the wilderness looking for the truth. And when he began his work, his ministry, it was as the prophet of a revealed, restored revelation: the religion resulting from that was intended to be the fulfillment of the BofM prophecy vis-a-vis "the church of the Lamb of God" in fullness. This left no room for warm and fuzzy feelings of brotherhood with ANY who would reject the missionaries of the restored gospel, as represented by the physical evidence of the BofM. Its message was clear: belong to the church spoken of in this ancient prophecy, or belong instead to the church of the devil: there are no other choices.

This was why Bruce R. McConkie identified the GaAC, or the church of the devil, as the RCC: it was "the mother of harlots", responsible for apostate Christianity: and all the Protestant break-offs from it were equally bereft of authority and revelation, i.e. were inescapably part of the GaAC and its influence. But Bruce R. was "old school", dogmatic, literalist, original Mormon doctrine straight to the plummet. It took the First Presidency to rein him in and compel a rewrite of certain passages for any subsequent editions of his book Mormon Doctrine. It was not the duty or even the desire of the modern Mormon people to insult ANY of our neighbors, not even the most irreligious. Ecumenism is the watchword in our day and age. "We are just like you; we are all Christians", is the message and feeling of the leadership today. At the same time, the Church avows, still, that ONLY the LDS Church has "priesthood authority" from God to perform "REAL" saving ordinances to unite families in the hereafter forever. It is an interesting fence-sitting position the Church has adopted.

But the BofM as it originated betrays its origins, including the predominating Protestant antipathy that has been present in popular American thinking. This is just one of the many evidences of authorship. The Nephi vision purports to be prophecy regarding future events (past events to Joseph Smith, of course): it makes the most basic mistake of being too specific as to already known details, such as this blame put on the RCC for ruining the scriptures by "removing many of the plain and precious truths from the gospel of the Lamb", etc; also revealing the brilliant yet untutored mind of the author are the details of the wars and other history that take their inspiration and miraculous contents from the Bible. As B. H. Roberts observed, the BofM is the product of "a pious but immature mind". "Is all this sober history inspired written and true, representing things that actually happened? Or is it a wonder-tale of an immature mind, unconscious of what a test he is laying on human credulity when asking men to accept nis narrative as solemn history?"...

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Enough of this. You've caused me to go do the thing which I dislike intensely: looking for a specific quotation in a book I read years ago. But fortunately I found it.

How heartless and unprincipled of me.

In fact, Palmer does not use the word "targum"; he quotes a "Krister Stendahl, at the time dean of the Harvard Divinity School, [who] wrote of the Bible's influence on the Book of Mormon:

"The biblical material behind the Book of Mormon strikes me as being in the form of the KJV [King James Version]. ... I have applied standard methods of historical critics, redaction criticism, and genre criticism. From such perspectives it seems very clear that the Book of Mormon belongs to and shows many of the typical signs of the Targums [interpretations or paraphrasings] and the pseudepigraphic recasting of biblical material. The targumic tendencies are those of clarifying and actualizing translations, usually by expansion and more specific application to the need and situation of the community. The pseudepigraphic, both apocalyptic and didactic, tend to fill out the gaps in our knowledge about sacred events, truths, and predictions ... It is obvious to me that the Book of Mormon stands within both of these traditions if considered as a phenomenon of religious texts." (the footnote reads: Krister Stendahl, "The Sermon on the Mount and Third Nephi", in Reflections on Mormonism, Judaeo-Christian Parallels, ed. Truman G. Madsen (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center, 1978), 149, 152.)

Ahh, it was Krister Stendhal then. Would have expected better of him. He does misuse the term "targum" even were one to take the position that the BoM is the KJV in different garb. He is right though that the Sermon to the Nephites fits a targumic pattern. When he attempts to make the entire BoM into a targum is where the abuse of the term comes into play. As I have tried to explain over and over, the targum isn't a retelling of the Bible with a different cast and setting. Targummight expand, enahnce or alter the meaning of the Bible text, but it sticks to the biblical text. A targum might put words in Isaiah's mouth which aren't in the Bible, but it doesn't take Isaiah's temple vision and transfer it to, say, Haninah of Masilia (don't bother looking him up).

Are you agreeing with me now?

No. see the above example. The quote I gave has NOTHING to do with your faulty perception of targum in relation to the BoM.

If there is any confusion it is my faulty memory. I hope that I have clarified sufficiently to put an end to this useless sidebar....

You may have clarified the source of Palmer's misuse of the term, but the misapplication remains.

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You are missing the point: Joseph Smith understood the RCC to be specifically the GaAC; the BofM clearly identifies it as such.

The clear identification lacks the clarity of actually saying "RCC," which means that even though you, like others have made that interpretation, the Book of Mormon does not. Rather, the Book of Mormon supplies a description and a time frame, and Joseph Smith provided addiction details on the time frame in the D&C. Joseph Smith's cultural background provides more context for interpretation, but a better context is that provided by following the Book of Mormon description.

SNIP

Besides Robinson's essay, the arguments of which you have not addressed,

Can we, then, identify the historical agency that acted as the great and abominable church in earliest Christianity? Such an agent would have had its origins in the second half of the first century and would have done much of its work by the middle of the second century.

This period might be called the blind spot in Christian history, for it is here that the fewest primary historical sources have been preserved. We have good sources for New Testament Christianity; then the lights go out, so to speak, and we hear the muffled sounds of a great struggle. When the lights come on again a hundred or so years later, we find that someone has rearranged all the furniture and Christianity has become something very different from what it was in the beginning. That different entity can accurately be described as hellenized Christianity.

another essential survey is Noel Reynolds here. For those interested.

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=42&chapid=201

But the BofM as it originated betrays its origins, including the predominating Protestant antipathy that has been present in popular American thinking. This is just one of the many evidences of authorship.

I agree that there are many evidences of Book of Mormon authorship, though, I expect my personal list is quite different.

The Nephi vision purports to be prophecy regarding future events (past events to Joseph Smith, of course): it makes the most basic mistake of being too specific as to already known details, such as this blame put on the RCC for ruining the scriptures by "removing many of the plain and precious truths from the gospel of the Lamb", etc;

I'm most impressed by specifics in the Book of Mormon that describe unknown details. For instance, who knew in Joseph Smith's day that a prophet in Jerusalem in 600 BCE could prophesy subsequent to the Book of Mormon's publication that other texts would be discovered and published that would demonstrate specific ideas that would have been known to First Temple Judaism, as well as specific ideas being lost from early Christianity?

I beheld other books, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles unto them, unto the convincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true. And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world;

I like to compare this, from Margaret Barker's first book, The Older Testament:

"The life and work of Jesus were, and should be, interpreted in the light of something other than Jerusalem Judaism. This other had its roots in the conflicts of the sixth century BC when the traditions of the monarchy were divided as an inheritance amongst several heirs. It would have been lost but for the accidents of archaeological discovery and the evidence of pre-Christian texts preserved and transmitted only by Christian hands."

And from the Great Angel:

"There were many in first-century Palestine who still retained a world-view derived from the more ancient religion of Israel [that of the First Temple] in which there was a High God and several Sons of God, one of whom was Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel. Yahweh, the Lord, could be manifested on earth in human form, as an angel or in the Davidic king. It was as a manifestation of Yahweh, the Son of God, that Jesus was acknowledged as Son of God, Messiah and Lord."

Barker's work converges very specifically in time, place, conclusions, and even the appearances of new sources of evidence that Nephi predicts.

also revealing the brilliant yet untutored mind of the author are the details of the wars and other history that take their inspiration and miraculous contents from the Bible. As B. H. Roberts observed, the BofM is the product of "a pious but immature mind".

Compare the specific evidence that Roberts was considering when he said such things, for instance, Roberts' study on the similarities of the stories of Nehor, Sherem, and Korihor, with John Welch's recent Legal Cases in the Book of Mormon. Add in Peterson and Nibley and Brant Gardner, for instance, on the war stories, and Welch and Szinc on the Israelite Festival Context for Benjamin's discourse, and Mark Wright's recent notice that the San Bartalo murals are contemporary with the account and describe a similar event. Palmer ignores all of that. Roberts had no chance to consider it.

In comparison with what is now available, it is the Roberts study that is definitely immature and untutored.

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

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