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Rob Bowman

Adding "not" in Hebrews 6:1

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How can one know if something is/is not inspired by God unless God Himself tells you?

That is the entire point!

The bottom line of course is that how do you even know there IS a God out there? No one else, nothing else can put that into you but God himself.

Then you have the question- (if he exists, and let's say you believe now that he does- because he has shown you he does) what does he want me to do?

Should I believe the Bible or the Avesta, or be a Buddhist, or a Hindu, Muslim or Christian? All are equally plausible, or implausible.

All you can do is follow your heart- follow him.

Most of us just follow our cultural traditions and make excuses for them. But the only way you can KNOW is by having God himself tell you what he wants for you, and when he does, really does, you can be as certain of your decision as you can be of anything in this world.

And to listen to someone else is just denying that spirit within you. How will you ever be happy denying the spirit within you?

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And all serious non-LDS scholars, like me, . . .

Bowman, the self proclaimed "serious non-LDS scholar"!

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The problem with that is you based your disagreement with JS's rationale by refering to nonoriginal manuscripts ...

Therefore, as I said, that your argument can't be made until you have the original manuscript to compare with, is true.

I trust you apply this radical skepticism consistently to the English Book of Mormon as well. On your logic, we can't make textual observations, construct comparative analyses, make arguments for original readings, or even begin to speak coherently about the textual content of the vast majority of BoM. Skousen knows that only 25% of "O" is currently extant (see his article, "Book of Mormon Manuscripts," in EoM), but he doesn't seem to have realized the implications of that salient fact nearly to the degree that you have, to wit, favorably reviewed by one D. Peterson. You might have saved Skousen a lot of time and effort!

I hope the news comes from someone he loves, because it's going to be devastating.

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Mr. Bukowski,

You wrote:

If the Bible is not "necessarily accurate in everything it says", as you just admitted, your case is lost.

No, I admitted no such thing. Obviously, I am wasting my time trying to reason with you.

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Nathair,

You wrote:

How can one know if something is/is not inspired by God unless God Himself tells you?

I'll give you a simple example that should help you answer your own question.

The Bible and the Book of Mormon both forbid adultery (in the Ten Commandments). As a Mormon, you should have no trouble concluding that the commandment not to commit adultery expresses God's view of the matter.

Now suppose someone claims that God has revealed to him that adultery is okay. Do you need God to tell you personally that this supposed revelation is not inspired by God?

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No, I admitted no such thing. Obviously, I am wasting my time trying to reason with you.

:P;)

Oh, the irony!!!

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I'll give you a simple example that should help you answer your own question.

This should be rich.

The Bible and the Book of Mormon both forbid adultery (in the Ten Commandments).

True.

As a Mormon, . . .

Or, in other words, one who should have approached God in humble and sincere prayer to reveal the truth of the Book of Mormon and to whom a spiritual manifestation from God was given. And since the Book of Mormon witnesses of the truth of the Bible, said spiritual manifestation also covers the Bible.

. . . you should have no trouble concluding that the commandment not to commit adultery expresses God's view of the matter.

Well, AFTER receiving the above manifestation from God, of course! No problem!

And your point?

Now suppose someone claims that God has revealed to him that adultery is okay.

Well, UNTIL God reveals the same to me, why should I depart from His previous revelation?

Do you need God to tell you personally that this supposed revelation is not inspired by God?

Of course not.

Now, what is your point?

You seem to be supporting Nathair's point, rather than countering it.

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Rob,

There're three things:

First, you said:

"The irony here is delicious. Mormons commonly complain that we cannot rely fully on the Bible because the scribes who copied it made changes to it, resulting in numerous variations in the biblical manuscripts. Now you are comparing Joseph Smith's revision of the Bible (or at least the embarrassing parts of it) to some of the work of the scribes who caused the trouble that Mormons historically thought Joseph was trying to correct!"

Except for the fact that he didn't change the Bible - he issued an "inspired" version. If the translators over time had issued additional versions rather than rewriting the Bible itself, we would have the original today. But we don't. And it's flawed.

Second, it makes no sense that we "mature beyond" the principles of Christ to perfection! I mean seriously, how do you grow beyond the two great commandments? Once we get them, we'd be perfect. There's nothing to move on to! The Greek makes no sense!

Third, I have to say...<currently straining at a gnat - will be back shortly>.

PacMan

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...

Hi Rob,

It is my Christian belief that one must never desire others to fail, but instead must endeavor to lift them up and help them any way they can if possible.

If someone continually seeks ill of another, their heart is not correct before the Lord, and they themselves are in need of repentance.

Would you agree?

So I sincerely hope the best for you. I regret that others around here sometimes seem to desire ill of you. I am sure we all should try to emulate the way of Christ in this forum.

Now, however, let me ask you this.

Suppose you were the prophet who wrote Hebrews 6:1 and knew perfectly what you meant to say. And suppose you now have learned modern English and understand it about perfectly.

Now I will present these two versions in English of what "you" wrote originally in another language:

Version 1:

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

Version 2:

Therefore
not
leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.

So the question is, to this prophet, which of these two versions IN MODERN ENGLISH do you believe is closest to what "you" originally meant to communicate in the original language?

Of course you are not really this prophet, so which of these two versions, based on your education (which I appreciate is very advanced in these matters compared to many of us) do you believe he would say is closest to what he originally meant?

Thanks!

Richard

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erichard,

You wrote:

Hi Rob,

It is my Christian belief that one must never desire others to fail, but instead must endeavor to lift them up and help them any way they can if possible.

If someone continually seeks ill of another, their heart is not correct before the Lord, and they themselves are in need of repentance.

Would you agree?

So I sincerely hope the best for you. I regret that others around here sometimes seem to desire ill of you. I am sure we all should try to emulate the way of Christ in this forum.

Thank you for your kind words. We can disagree strongly without making false or rash accusations against one another. I don't know if anyone here desires ill for me, but I do know some people here think ill of me -- that is, they attribute evil motives and intentions to me. I regret that.

You wrote:

Now, however, let me ask you this.

By all means. I enjoy and appreciate challenging questions posed in a civil manner.

You wrote:

Suppose you were the prophet who wrote Hebrews 6:1 and knew perfectly what you meant to say. And suppose you now have learned modern English and understand it about perfectly.

Now I will present these two versions in English of what "you" wrote originally in another language:

Version 1:

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

Version 2:

Therefore
not
leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.

So the question is, to this prophet, which of these two versions IN MODERN ENGLISH do you believe is closest to what "you" originally meant to communicate in the original language?

Honestly, the first. I have already given an example, but I will repeat it and offer a second, and elaborate on the point. If a teacher tells her elementary school children, "Today, class, we're going to leave addition and move on to subtraction," her meaning is reasonably clear, although some of the children (being young) might misunderstand. However, if I told my college students in our New Testament literature and history course, "Today we're going to leave the Gospels and go on to the Book of Acts," I guarantee you that none of them would think I was suggesting that we abandon the Gospels or discard them from our lives. And that would be a perfectly legitimate and ordinary way to make the point in modern English.

The second statement would completely miss a basic point that the author of Hebrews is making: his readers are spiritually immature and have failed to move beyond baby food to the solid food fit for the mature (Heb. 5:11-14). Translating "not leaving" in Hebrews 6:1 loses the point that the author is making by saying "leaving," which is that his readers need to advance in their spiritual growth and theological education beyond the ABCs. In my opinion one possible contributing factor to the misunderstanding of "leaving" in 6:1 is the chapter division, which disconnects 5:11-14 from 6:1-3. Anyone who read 5:11-6:3 in one shot and followed the author's train of thought would have no trouble processing the significance of the word "leaving" in the midst of that context.

Now, in case you do not find this persuasive, I would also point out that your question, though I'm sure it is sincere, really misses a crucial element of the argument I have presented here. I will agree, at least for the sake of argument, that "leaving" is not the ideal translation in Hebrews 6:1 because of the potential for readers (particularly those misled by the chapter division and not well trained in reading contextually for comprehension) to misunderstand that word as meaning to abandon or reject the elementary principles. Obviously, such a misunderstanding is possible, since, as I have shown, Joseph Smith so misunderstood it. The "ambiguity" exists only if the word is taken in isolation, but this is just as true of the Greek word aphiemi as it is of the English word "leaving" (a good argument for that rendering, by the way). Nevertheless, the ambiguity does exist on the bare lexical level (i.e., in the word "leaving" taken in isolation from the context). A translator who wanted to remove that ambiguity and make the meaning less susceptible to being misunderstood could do so in any number of ways. Here are some of those possible ways of making the text less ambiguous:

"Therefore we must progress beyond the elementary instructions about Christ and move on to maturity" (NET).

"Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity (TNIV).

"Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection (NKJV).

The first two modern translations quoted above remove the ambiguity by using a different verbal expression in place of "leaving" ("progress beyond" or "move beyond"). The third takes a different approach, adding the words "the discussion" to make clear that the "leaving" is pedagogical. Both of these approaches accurately express the meaning of the verb aphiemi in context.

The JST rendering "not leaving," however, does nothing to clarify the meaning or to make the meaning less ambiguous. Instead it negates the statement that the text is actually making. It is therefore less accurate than either the KJV or the modern translations quoted above. In fact, it is simply inaccurate, as I have explained.

You wrote:

Of course you are not really this prophet, so which of these two versions, based on your education (which I appreciate is very advanced in these matters compared to many of us) do you believe he would say is closest to what he originally meant?

There are some extremely bright and well-educated persons in this forum. I think our differences are the result less of our education and more of a pre-commitment to defend Joseph Smith on the part of many (not all) LDS here. You might suppose that I have just as deep a pre-commitment to criticize Joseph Smith as Mormons have to defend him. Not really, not with regard to specifics like this. Some of Joseph's revisions of the KJV are fine, though none, in my estimation, provide evidence of supernatural knowledge or inspiration. Where Joseph was right, he was right, and I have no trouble saying so. But where he was wrong, I'm not going to be shy about pointing it out.

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No, I admitted no such thing. Obviously, I am wasting my time trying to reason with you.

If you have wasted time, it is in dodging my arguments because you certainly have not tried to reason with me at all.

Anyone reading this thread can see that- it is totally obvious.

Even if I grant your circular argument about the historicity of the Bible- that it proves itself historically- which of course I would not do, you still have not shown any reason whatsoever why one should take the Bible as a spiritual guide of any kind, or suspect any of its spiritual doctrines as being "true".

You have never once addressed these issues.

And as a paid, professional anti-Mormon of course I could not expect you to give up your living, could I? Your flock is not reading this thread, so you are safe in keeping your job. I wish you no ill will personally- but do I ascribe bad motives to you? Of course I do.

I would invite anyone who thinks you have addressed these issues to call me on it and show me what I have missed. Your arguments stand or fall on their own merit, or lack thereof.

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Thus, we can absolutely rule out the notion that the KJV mistranslated the Greek text, and we can also definitively rule out as extremely improbable the notion that the Greek text was miscopied.

If we do not understand it as the author intended it then it is very definitely a mistranslation. The actual rendition should reflect that "building" on the basics of Jesus' teachings we must move on. A perusal of some of the different translations shows this variant...


  • NET© 6:1 Therefore we must progress beyond 1 the elementary 2 instructions about Christ 3 and move on 4 to maturity, not laying this foundation again: repentance from dead works and faith in God,
  • NIV© 6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,
  • NASB© 6:1 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
  • ESV© 6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
  • NLT© 6:1 So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deedsa and placing our faith in God.
  • ;BBE© 6:1 For this reason let us go on from the first things about Christ to full growth; not building again that on which it is based, that is, the turning of the heart from dead works, and faith in God,
  • NKJV© 6:1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
  • NRSV© 6:1 Therefore let us go on toward perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ, and not laying again the foundation: repentance from dead works and faith toward God,
  • KJV© 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, {principles...: or, word of the beginning of}

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What is wrong with Joseph Smith's modification? Where is the lack of inspiration? I say it is you that lacks inspiration in your extreme attitude of petty fault finding. I see no problem here. You are talking like he should have understood the Greek. No kidding, about the fact that he understood it as abandonment. But so what? To him that was a bad rendering that would lead people to believe it meant abandonment, so he clarified it. To him that is a bad translation, and if it leads to that understanding, SO IT IS. You are really making a mountain out of a molehill on this one. You are really going out of your way to find fault on this point. Joseph Smith's rendering here has nothing to do with the original Greek, which is unfortunate, but not a deal killer. The doctrine Joseph Smith is teaching in this clarification is absolutely true. We don't want to abandon the doctrine of Christ. So what is your point? Only that if Joseph didn't know what the actual original Greek was, that he wasn't a prophet? Why? That if Joseph Smith was truly a prophet, that he should have been able to divine the original sense from the Greek just by looking at the English text? That is dumb. Sorry. That is just plain dumb and absolutely unreasonable to have that expectation. You clearly don't want to understand the JST for its merits. You only want to focus on its shortcomings for your own personal gain to "win" on this one silly little point. Joseph Smith often clearly had to speculate on certain points when the Spirit only told him some things, not everything.

You people who are Evangelical types equate the word "prophet" with omniscience, or you think that someone can only be a prophet if God tells him all things. Far more often, a prophet is somebody that is on the right track and gets all the important stuff right even if he is wrong in the small stuff. That is why this is silly, because you miss that core point, that Joseph Smith knew this was a bad rendering, and tried to do something about it. You say he is uninspired if he is not omniscient. Dumb. I say we know more of the facts of the matter now, but it doesn't change the fact that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with Joseph Smith's rendering. It still teaches true doctrine. Its unfortunate that Joseph thought he was restoring an original rendering. Just because he didn't restore the "original" doesn't change the core issue, that he had his doctrine right.

An excellent example of Joseph Smith’s uninspired translation is his handling of Hebrews 6:1 in the JST. Whereas the KJV says, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection,” the JST adds the word “not” to the first clause: “Therefore not leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.” What makes this such a useful test case of Joseph’s translating abilities is that he provided something of a commentary on the rationale for this particular change to the KJV:

The first thing to notice here is that Joseph introduces his change to Hebrews 6:1 as an example of how he addresses the supposed problem of errors in the Bible arising from “ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests.” His point here is that the Bible contains “errors” either through ignorance (on the part of translators), accident (on the part of copyists), or deliberate changes to the Bible (on the part of “designing and corrupt priests”). The last category appears to refer to apostate church leaders whom Joseph Smith thought may have deliberately altered either the original-language texts or subsequent translations of those texts into other languages (or both). We are evidently to understand, then, that the error that Joseph claims to have found in Hebrews 6:1 is either a copying error or a translation error. Either way, Joseph was claiming that the KJV wording did not accurately represent the original wording of Hebrews 6:1—either because the original text differed from that used by the KJV or because the KJV simply mistranslated the text. This means that Smith’s change to Hebrews 6:1 cannot be explained as merely updating the language of the KJV. Smith explicitly tells us that Hebrews 6:1 as it read in his day was in error and that he was correcting it.

Second, Joseph explains quite directly the rationale for his thinking that Hebrews 6:1 in the KJV was worded erroneously. He drew that conclusion because Hebrews 6:1 KJV appeared to him to be inherently contradictory: “If a man leaves the principles of the doctrine of Christ, how can he be saved in the principles? This is a contradiction. I don’t believe it.” Quite simply, Joseph thought what Hebrews 6:1 KJV said did not make sense. Notice that Joseph made no claim to receive a supernatural revelation that the word “not” was missing from the text. No doubt he wanted people to believe that he was supernaturally guided in his revision of the KJV, but his description of the process by which he came to view the KJV as erroneous was a matter of rational reflection. As he came to the passage, he observed something that seemed to him to be contradictory, and he remedied the problem by altering the text to “render it as it should be.”

A simple examination of the Greek editions of the New Testament known to the KJV translators shows that they did not overlook the Greek word for “not” at Hebrews 6:1 (me, a Greek word which does appear later in the same verse). The problem, then, is not mistranslation. This leaves only the supposition that the Greek text of Hebrews was miscopied, omitting (accidentally or deliberately) the word for “not.” However, manuscript discoveries since Joseph Smith have not lent any support to the supposition that the text actually said “not leaving” rather than “leaving.” The earliest known manuscripts containing Hebrews 6:1 are the Chester Beatty Papyri, discovered in the twentieth century and dating from about AD 200. Not one of the many other Greek manuscripts of Hebrews contains the word “not” at Hebrews 6:1, nor do any of the manuscripts of ancient translations of Hebrews into Coptic, Latin, and other languages. The wealth and distribution of Greek and other language version manuscripts are sufficient to prove that the current wording of Hebrews 6:1 considerably pre-dated the earliest known manuscript of Hebrews. Thus, we can absolutely rule out the notion that the KJV mistranslated the Greek text, and we can also definitively rule out as extremely improbable the notion that the Greek text was miscopied.

When we consider Joseph’s rationale for his correction of the KJV, it becomes clear that the real problem is that he simply misunderstood the KJV. He thought “leaving” meant abandoning, whereas in this context it meant going beyond--that is, it meant not staying at the elementary level. The Greek word aphiemi translated “leaving” can mean to abandon in some contexts, but in other contexts it can mean to “leave behind” in the same sense as in English, that of moving beyond something basic or elementary. (Thus, a teacher might tell her class, “Today we’re going to leave addition and move on to subtraction.”) Hebrews 6:1 is in fact speaking about something basic or elementary (“the principles,” which translates the Greek words tes arches…logon, rendered in modern versions as “elementary principles,” “elementary teaching,” or the like [ESV, HCSB, NAB, NASB, NET, NIV, NJB, NKJV, TNIV, etc.]). This proves beyond any reasonable doubt that “leaving” here in context means moving beyond in instruction, as the relation between “leaving” and “let us go on” also makes clear. Thus, for example, the NET translates, “we must progress beyond the elementary instructions about Christ and move on to maturity,” and a footnote comments, “Grk ‘Therefore leaving behind.’ The implication is not of abandoning this elementary information, but of building on it.”

This understanding of the text was current in Smith’s day, so he could have known this just by studying available commentaries—or even by hearing a moderately well-informed sermon on the passage. For example, Matthew Henry (who wrote in the early 1700s, more than a century before Smith) had the following comment on the passage:

“In order to their growth, Christians must leave the principles of the doctrine of Christ. How must they leave them? They must not lose them, they must not despise them, they must not forget them. They must lay them up in their hearts, and lay them as the foundation of all their profession and expectation; but they must not rest and stay in them, they must not be always laying the foundation, they must go on, and build upon it” (Commentary on the Whole Bible, at Heb. 6:1).

More than a century before Henry, John Calvin made the same point:

“Now, he bids them to leave these rudiments, not that the faithful are ever to forget them, but that they are not to remain in them; and this idea appears more clear from what follows, the comparison of a foundation; for in building a house we must never leave the foundation; and yet to be always engaged in laying it, would be ridiculous” (Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, at Heb. 6:1).

Smith’s failure to understand this point is clear proof that he was not inspired in his “translation.” By adding the word “not,” he not only failed to clarify the text’s real meaning, he actually showed that he did not understand what he was revising. This is about as clear an example of an uninspired rewrite as one could imagine.

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What is there to misunderstand about "leaving"?

Webster's 1828 dictionary;

LE'AVING, ppr. Quitting; withdrawing from; relinquishing; suffering to remain; ceasing; desisting from.

The common usage of Joseph's time...no?

Bernard

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Nathair,

You wrote:

I'll give you a simple example that should help you answer your own question.

The Bible and the Book of Mormon both forbid adultery (in the Ten Commandments). As a Mormon, you should have no trouble concluding that the commandment not to commit adultery expresses God's view of the matter.

Now suppose someone claims that God has revealed to him that adultery is okay. Do you need God to tell you personally that this supposed revelation is not inspired by God?

I could only make that judgement because the Lord has already revealed to me that the Book of Mormon is His word. Without that knowledge I would have a corpus of literature which may or may not be inspired contradicting someones words which may or may not be inspired. Only after I knew for sure about one of them could I begin to make a judgement on the other based on the first instance.

Further, there may be situations where God might command adultery, I cannot think of any at the moment. For example, the scriptures teach that murder is wrong. However, He commanded Nephi to murder Laban.

I realize that in your scenario, you were probably referring to adultery being ok as a general rule, but I couldn't give you a fair answer without the above.

Sorry if that's less than clear, it is almost 1 in the morning.

Oh, I just did think of a situation. If there were only a few breeding people left after a disaster and they couldn't be sure of a perfectly healthy genome, it might be necessary for each possible combination to produce as many possible offspring to maximize genetic diversity.

Yours under the nuanced oaks,

Nathair /|\

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Mr. Bukowski,

There are Mormons here who are civil even while strongly disagreeing with me. I can carry on a respectful discussion with them. I am sorry that you are not one of them.

If you have wasted time, it is in dodging my arguments because you certainly have not tried to reason with me at all.

Anyone reading this thread can see that- it is totally obvious.

Even if I grant your circular argument about the historicity of the Bible- that it proves itself historically- which of course I would not do, you still have not shown any reason whatsoever why one should take the Bible as a spiritual guide of any kind, or suspect any of its spiritual doctrines as being "true".

You have never once addressed these issues.

And as a paid, professional anti-Mormon of course I could not expect you to give up your living, could I? Your flock is not reading this thread, so you are safe in keeping your job. I wish you no ill will personally- but do I ascribe bad motives to you? Of course I do.

I would invite anyone who thinks you have addressed these issues to call me on it and show me what I have missed. Your arguments stand or fall on their own merit, or lack thereof.

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Ron,

You wrote:

If we do not understand it as the author intended it then it is very definitely a mistranslation.

I'm sorry, but this is simply not correct. Misunderstanding varies from one person to another. If Jim misunderstands the verse but Jane does not, then, according to your reasoning, it is mistranslated for Jim but not mistranslated for Jane. This makes mistranslation a subjective matter, like taste (Jim does not like green beans, Jane does).

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ST,

You wrote:

What is wrong with Joseph Smith's modification?

I have answered this question, with great care, and patiently answered challenges to my explanation.

You wrote:

Where is the lack of inspiration? I say it is you that lacks inspiration in your extreme attitude of petty fault finding.

It is unfortunate that you are trying to make me the issue instead of addressing the argument that I have presented.

You wrote:

You are talking like he should have understood the Greek.... So what is your point? Only that if Joseph didn't know what the actual original Greek was, that he wasn't a prophet? Why? That if Joseph Smith was truly a prophet, that he should have been able to divine the original sense from the Greek just by looking at the English text? That is dumb. Sorry. That is just plain dumb and absolutely unreasonable to have that expectation.

Well, Joseph supposedly was able by his supernatural gift of translation to translate a text written in a form of Egyptian that no human being alive could have interpreted (without even looking at that text!), so yes, knowing what the Greek text of Hebrews 6:1 meant--not to mention understanding correctly what the English text of the KJV meant--should have been a snap. I don't see anything "dumb" or "unreasonable" about this inference.

You wrote:

No kidding, about the fact that he understood it as abandonment. But so what? To him that was a bad rendering that would lead people to believe it meant abandonment, so he clarified it.

I have already explained quite carefully why his rendering did not clarify the verse. When you engage my explanation directly, we will be able to have a constructive discussion about this issue.

You wrote:

To him that is a bad translation, and if it leads to that understanding, SO IT IS.

As I just explained to Ron, this claim makes mistranslation subjective. And even supposing that the KJV translation is a bad translation--which it is not--Joseph's revision failed to clarify the real meaning, as I have already explained. You have not even touched my explanation of this point.

You wrote:

You are really making a mountain out of a molehill on this one. You are really going out of your way to find fault on this point.

You are mistaken. The fault jumped out at me; I wasn't expecting it or looking for it.

You wrote:

Joseph Smith's rendering here has nothing to do with the original Greek, which is unfortunate, but not a deal killer.

One wonders what you would regard as a "deal killer."

You wrote:

You clearly don't want to understand the JST for its merits. You only want to focus on its shortcomings for your own personal gain to "win" on this one silly little point.

I have nothing to gain personally from this "one silly little point." Joseph Smith made a number of acceptable revisions to the KJV. This wasn't one of them.

You wrote:

Joseph Smith often clearly had to speculate on certain points when the Spirit only told him some things, not everything. You people who are Evangelical types equate the word "prophet" with omniscience, or you think that someone can only be a prophet if God tells him all things.... You say he is uninspired if he is not omniscient. Dumb.

This is a straw man objection to my argument. I'm not suggesting Joseph Smith should have been omniscient. I am assuming that if he claimed to be divinely inspired to revise a particular verse in the Bible that he should have understood the verse at least as well as any reasonably good reader of his own day. The fact that he didn't is evidence against his claim to be divinely inspired to revise that verse.

You wrote:

Far more often, a prophet is somebody that is on the right track and gets all the important stuff right even if he is wrong in the small stuff.

Unfortunately, Joseph got the important stuff wrong as well. He taught that God was once a man who progressed to become a God and that we can likewise become a God like him. Joseph also claimed that God had authorized him to enter into marriage with a couple of dozen women, including several women who were married at the time to other men. But I doubt you will regard even these facts as "deal killers."

You wrote:

I say we know more of the facts of the matter now,...

You are ignoring the reality that we knew more of the facts of the matter even in Joseph Smith's day.

You wrote:

Its unfortunate that Joseph thought he was restoring an original rendering.

I am mystified by your willingness to disagree with Joseph's own understanding of what he thought he was doing while accepting his claim to be divinely inspired. If Joseph thought he was divinely inspired to restore the text's original meaning, but he was mistaken, then he was mistaken about being divinely inspired.

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Nathair,

Two points here.

1. You should not need a personal revelation from the Lord that the Book of Mormon is his word to know that adultery is wrong. The moral law of God is written on our hearts (Rom. 2:14-16) and we already know that adultery is wrong. The fact that God has said so in his word, in the Ten Commandments, is simply confirmation of what we already know.

2. Imaginative scenarios in which you can speculate that adultery might be necessary are beside the point. I can think of some too. But I don't need a special revelation from God to know that the hypothetical possibility of adultery becoming necessary after a nuclear holocaust does not authorize me now to commit adultery with that cute young woman I met across town. I can use my reasoning faculties to know that God's prohibition of adultery has no legitimate exception in that instance.

I could only make that judgement because the Lord has already revealed to me that the Book of Mormon is His word. Without that knowledge I would have a corpus of literature which may or may not be inspired contradicting someones words which may or may not be inspired. Only after I knew for sure about one of them could I begin to make a judgement on the other based on the first instance.

Further, there may be situations where God might command adultery, I cannot think of any at the moment. For example, the scriptures teach that murder is wrong. However, He commanded Nephi to murder Laban.

I realize that in your scenario, you were probably referring to adultery being ok as a general rule, but I couldn't give you a fair answer without the above.

Sorry if that's less than clear, it is almost 1 in the morning.

Oh, I just did think of a situation. If there were only a few breeding people left after a disaster and they couldn't be sure of a perfectly healthy genome, it might be necessary for each possible combination to produce as many possible offspring to maximize genetic diversity.

Yours under the nuanced oaks,

Nathair /|\

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Ron,

You wrote:

I'm sorry, but this is simply not correct. Misunderstanding varies from one person to another. If Jim misunderstands the verse but Jane does not, then, according to your reasoning, it is mistranslated for Jim but not mistranslated for Jane. This makes mistranslation a subjective matter, like taste (Jim does not like green beans, Jane does).

You misunderstood my response, which somehow makes my point. It matters little that Jane understands and Jim does not. What matters is that the translator translated the original intent of the author. In this case, JS captured, if not the original linguistic meaning, but the original theological thought.

I don't know if you have done any translating, but I used to translate ancient Japanese texts. Establishing the intent of the original author was extremely demanding. Not only did we have deal with the linguistic purity, but also the social, i.e., religious, cultural and historical background of the author.

JS seemed to convey this, not through his academic understanding, but something deeper and more psychic.

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Again, there is nothing wrong with Joseph Smith's translation, as it gives us correct doctrine, though it does not convey what YOU want it to. You are part of the issue yourself because you are dictating to us what must constitute a "true translation." As far as I know, Joseph Smith never abided by your set of arbitrary rules for what a translation should be. Bologna. You are absolutely requiring omniscience from Joseph Smith telling us that Joseph Smith's translation can only be correct only if he understood the verse "as well as" other people, or in other words, only if he understood it in the sense other people understood it. The way he understood it from a badly worded English translation is a reasonable way to understand the ENGLISH, and the way he fixed the english was a reasonable way to fix the English. You say that the only way to correctly understand the English would be to correctly understand it in the sense that it is in the Greek. The way he worded it gives us correct doctrine. The fact that it gives us correct doctrine means it conveys truth. How then is it an incorrect translation?

You say you are mystified. Ok, let me restate it for you again, since you are mystified. Again, your claim that he was only divinely inspired about his idea of restoring an ancient text only if the Spirit of God told him every last jot and tittle about every little thing in this verse. Again, that is the basis of how you are requiring omniscience from him for him to be inspired! You are saying that he can only be a prophet if he is not mistaken on that point, which would require omniscience. It is you contradicting yourself. You deny you are requiring omniscience from him, yet then you turn around and say that he should have been omniscient about this particular verse and known every detail to be a true prophet, because he was mistaken on a small point! Again, you are requiring omniscience. Does that spell it out for you? His rendering gives us correct doctrine. That is all I care about from a prophet of God, is true doctrine. I don't care if he is mistaken on the smaller points. You only care about smaller points. That is all you can do is pick him apart on the smaller points while missing the far larger issue at hand. You ignore the "line upon line" thing from your own Bible, and you want your prophets to know everything from the very first.

Don't try to derail this with polygamy and polyandry. That has nothing to do with this. Keep focused on the issue at hand. We can certainly debate that stuff on another thread. As far as I know, God didn't care much that Abraham had a number of wives. The fact that he authorized Joseph Smith to do the same is no surprise, from a Biblical point of view. I mean, you do believe in the Bible right? Oh but, for Abraham, that was just a cultural thing that God must have overlooked. Isn't that the usual way your types explain that away? As far as I know, my God is no respecter of persons, but your God must be a respecter of persons since he allows for double standards, allowing Abraham to have a number of wives, but making Joseph Smith an adulterer because he had many as well.

At least the Mormon God cared enough to not have a love child out of wedlock with Mary, according to Brigham Young. Unless polyandry is invoked, the Judeo-Christian God is nothing but an adulterer like Zeus, regardless of the mode of conception, sex or no sex. Even if God did not procreate with Mary in the classical sense, he still would have been an adulterer without marrying her. So if God himself allows for polyandry under certain circumstances so as not to be an adulterer, I don't see any problem with Joseph Smith and polyandry, providing those women with an Eternal Husband that otherwise they would not have had. As far as I know, it is only childish cultural sensibilities from our overly sensitive culture that regard this kind of stuff as "getting it wrong in the big stuff." When you really look at it objectively and rationally, it is very logical, and from the context of cultures from ancient times outside of our own, is probably very acceptable. As far as I know, we have know idea of what kind of culture exists in heaven, and what is acceptable there. I think you have no basis for your claim that he didn't get the big stuff right on these points of polyandry and so forth. A marriage relation keeps people from committing adultery. That is a pretty big thing, I would say. From a rationalist perspective, polyandry is quite logical. I would say that it is only you and those that think like you that are overly sensitive about it, and you really need to get over it.

ST,

You wrote:

I have answered this question, with great care, and patiently answered challenges to my explanation.

You wrote:

It is unfortunate that you are trying to make me the issue instead of addressing the argument that I have presented.

You wrote:

Well, Joseph supposedly was able by his supernatural gift of translation to translate a text written in a form of Egyptian that no human being alive could have interpreted (without even looking at that text!), so yes, knowing what the Greek text of Hebrews 6:1 meant--not to mention understanding correctly what the English text of the KJV meant--should have been a snap. I don't see anything "dumb" or "unreasonable" about this inference.

You wrote:

I have already explained quite carefully why his rendering did not clarify the verse. When you engage my explanation directly, we will be able to have a constructive discussion about this issue.

You wrote:

As I just explained to Ron, this claim makes mistranslation subjective. And even supposing that the KJV translation is a bad translation--which it is not--Joseph's revision failed to clarify the real meaning, as I have already explained. You have not even touched my explanation of this point.

You wrote:

You are mistaken. The fault jumped out at me; I wasn't expecting it or looking for it.

You wrote:

One wonders what you would regard as a "deal killer."

You wrote:

I have nothing to gain personally from this "one silly little point." Joseph Smith made a number of acceptable revisions to the KJV. This wasn't one of them.

You wrote:

This is a straw man objection to my argument. I'm not suggesting Joseph Smith should have been omniscient. I am assuming that if he claimed to be divinely inspired to revise a particular verse in the Bible that he should have understood the verse at least as well as any reasonably good reader of his own day. The fact that he didn't is evidence against his claim to be divinely inspired to revise that verse.

You wrote:

Unfortunately, Joseph got the important stuff wrong as well. He taught that God was once a man who progressed to become a God and that we can likewise become a God like him. Joseph also claimed that God had authorized him to enter into marriage with a couple of dozen women, including several women who were married at the time to other men. But I doubt you will regard even these facts as "deal killers."

You wrote:

You are ignoring the reality that we knew more of the facts of the matter even in Joseph Smith's day.

You wrote:

I am mystified by your willingness to disagree with Joseph's own understanding of what he thought he was doing while accepting his claim to be divinely inspired. If Joseph thought he was divinely inspired to restore the text's original meaning, but he was mistaken, then he was mistaken about being divinely inspired.

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ST,

Your comments about the JST of Hebrews 6:1 merely repeats your earlier objections while continuing to ignore the arguments I gave in previous posts for my conclusion. Your criticism that I am requiring Joseph Smith to be "omniscient about this particular verse" is a rather silly objection. All I am saying is that a prophet divinely inspired to revise Hebrews 6:1 should have had a decently well informed understanding of the verse.

You wrote:

Don't try to derail this with polygamy and polyandry. That has nothing to do with this. Keep focused on the issue at hand.

You had asserted that my criticisms of Joseph Smith were limited to minutiae and that he got the most important things right. Sorry, but you opened the door by that claim to having pointed out some of the most important things he got wrong.

While you say you don't want the thread derailed by the subject of polygamy and polyandry, you go on to try to defend Joseph Smith against this criticism:

We can certainly debate that stuff on another thread. At least the Mormon God cared enough to not have a love child out of wedlock with Mary, according to Brigham Young. Unless polyandry is invoked, the Judeo-Christian God is nothing but an adulterer like Zeus, regardless of the mode of conception, sex or no sex. Even if God did not procreate with Mary in the classical sense, he still would have been an adulterer without marrying her. So if God himself allows for polyandry under certain circumstances so as not to be an adulterer, I don't see any problem with Joseph Smith and polyandry, providing those women with an Eternal Husband that otherwise they would not have had.

Wow. You claim that God supernaturally causing Mary to become pregnant with Jesus, without any sexual or other physical contact with her, would have been "adultery" unless God married her first. You're actually advocating and defending Brigham Young's position on this subject--and I didn't even bring it up! And somehow this is theological justification for Joseph Smith to sleep with women married to other men. If this sort of rationalization works for you, I doubt there is anything I can say to persuade you otherwise. No wonder the comparatively subtle point concerning Hebrews 6:1 has been lost on you.

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Ron,

You wrote:

You misunderstood my response, which somehow makes my point. It matters little that Jane understands and Jim does not. What matters is that the translator translated the original intent of the author. In this case, JS captured, if not the original linguistic meaning, but the original theological thought.

I have already explained why this is not so. The original theological thought was that the readers needed to advance beyond the baby food or theological ABCs of the Christian faith. Joseph's revision not only failed to clarify or "capture" that original theological thought, it further obscured it.

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