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David Bokovoy

Brant Gardner'S New Book

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Are you asking me to weigh in?

Based upon that old picture of you and the mummy, I would seriously advise against it, you may not like the results. Says the guy with the BBQ addiction whose given up exercise.

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Having just finished Brant's new book I can't wait to read this thread. Gonna go through it in the morning. The first few posts are massively promising. Loving it.

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Having just finished Brant's new book I can't wait to read this thread. Gonna go through it in the morning. The first few posts are massively promising. Loving it.

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I haven’t read your book yet, and given the length of it I am not promising to do so any time soon. But just following from the discussion, it seems to me that you may be overlooking some of the implications of these verses:

Mormon 9
:

32 And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech.

33 And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.

34 But the Lord knoweth the things which we have written, and also that none other people knoweth our language; and because that none other people knoweth our language, therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof.

These verses suggest a number of things: Firstly, that his preferred choice was to write in Hebrew. He is forced to abandon that choice because of the technological limitations imposed on him. Secondly, the reason why he is forced to write in “Reformed Egyptian” is because it enabled him to condense a large amount of text into a small space. How that was made possible I have no idea. I don’t know enough about Hebrew or Egyptian to be able to answer that question. That is a question for expert linguists to answer. And thirdly, writing in “Reformed Egyptian” came at a price. It enabled them to condense a large amount of text in a small space, which was a good thing; but it also introduced imperfections into the written record, which was an undesirable side effect. Again, how that process worked is not made clear in the book. The implications of all of that seem to me to be that Hebrew (or the dialect of it that was indigenously developed by them) was their “normal” language, not Egyptian or Reformed Egyptian.

Another factor that needs to be considered here is the miraculous nature of translation. When you are dealing with a miracle, then it throws off a lot of the calculations. Mormon and Moroni complain a lot about the “imperfections” in their records; but at the same time he is expressing the hope that through the miraculous nature of the translation process, God will actually iron out the imperfections and make up the difference! That is what he seems to be saying in verse 34. And other passages in the Book of Mormon seem to be reinforcing the same expectation:

2 Nephi 3
:

21 Because of their faith their words shall proceed forth out of my mouth unto their brethren who are the fruit of thy loins; and the weakness of their words will I make strong in their faith, unto the remembering of my covenant which I made unto thy fathers.

Nephi 29
:

2 And also, that I may remember the promises which I have made unto thee, Nephi, and also unto thy father, that I would remember your seed; and that the words of your seed should proceed forth out of my mouth unto your seed; and my words shall hiss forth unto the ends of the earth, for a standard unto my people, which are of the house of Israel;

Moroni 10
:

27 And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust?

28 I declare these things unto the fulfilling of the prophecies. And behold, they shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the everlasting God; and his word shall hiss forth from generation to generation.

29 And God shall show unto you, that that which I have written is true.

In other words, the words of the Book of Mormon were not written and then translated like a normal book would be; but they have gone into the Lord’s mouth, and then come out of the Lord’s mouth, and in the process something has happened to it! That throws off a lot of the calculations, and limits very considerably what conclusions we can draw about the original language or manuscript of the Book of Mormon by just looking at the translated text. I remain puzzled how someone can write a 400 page book on that, until I have read your book!

Edited by zerinus

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Rather than an "if/and" clause, these conditional statements in Hebrew are more precisely, if/waw clauses, and the waw can serve as either a conjunctive particle or denote the English word "then" as in an identifier of a cause and effect. So when the waw functions as "then," it would actually be an "incorrect" translation to render the word as a conjunctive "and."

Fascinating. That does make the entire process much more complicated if that is to be taken as a representation of a Hebraism. Don't do too much of my work for me! wink.gif

Part of where you and I differ in our approach is that it appears that you would like the translation process to be consistent all throughout the production of the Book of Mormon. In contrast, I believe that the evidence suggests that the production of the Book of Mormon in some ways mirrors the translation process of any major work by jumping back and forth between a variety of diverse techniques.

It is worth elaborating on this point. My original thesis was that there should be a single translation process that would be the explanation for everything. The evidence told me that I couldn't sustain that hypothesis. However, I still think that there was a basic process and that the transitions to other processes (and here read different relationships to the plate text) occurred for reasons rather than random variation.

So, if I were to state where we agree, I agree that there were different relationships between the plate text and the English translation. However, I think that there was a basic approach and specific triggers explain the exceptions. That much I said. However, I think it is worth noting that even in the basic method, which I think represents a functional translation (following the meaning of the text without direct/precise replication of syntax or vocabulary) that there would be times when the English was somewhat closer and somewhat more distant from the plate text. I think that a natural part of the process, but a random one, not one that can be used to establish intent or the nature of the plate text since there is no tool that allows us to analyze when that occurred.

I'm afraid, however, that with Education Week upon us, I will not have time right now to elaborate further and share my additional concerns.

And you get to have some fun and present, right? Have fun. I can't imagine why that takes precedence over this discussion, however. . . .. shok.gif

But I'm really pleased that you've taken my critique as a compliment. This is clearly a reflection of your desire to understand, rather than push a personal agenda. For the record, there have been several recent studies that have been released arguing for various Book of Mormon theories that I have found problematic, yet felt no need to respond. I don't know that pointing this out means anything, but your book and ideas are certainly worth the effort.

Thanks for all your hard work in opening the door to this important discussion. Even if I remain unconvinced, your work will help improve the arguments presented for Hebraisms in the text.

I guess I hadn't noticed it before, but I really don't have a personal agenda. I do have a personal understanding of the text, and I have questions for which I have tried to find answers. I am more interested in the answers, and discussion will hone them. I've been wrong enough in the past that I expect it in the future. Of course, being wrong in print would be a lot more embarrassing, but if it results in better understanding I'm all for it.

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These verses suggest a number of things: Firstly, that his preferred choice was to write in Hebrew. He is forced to abandon that choice because of the technological limitations imposed on him.

Correct. Now we have to figure out what that means. Obviously, it means it was possible. Second, it was preferred. The problem with the preference is that we don't know why it was preferred. I would suspect that it was because it was an old and sacred language. It was preferred like Latin was the preferred church language for so long. Obviously, that is a complete guess.

Basically, we agree that Hebrew was available (though somehow different in ways that could be known, indicating exemplars against which to compare).

Secondly, the reason why he is forced to write in “Reformed Egyptian” is because it enabled him to condense a large amount of text into a small space. How that was made possible I have no idea. I don’t know enough about Hebrew or Egyptian to be able to answer that question.

That is the reason he gave. Based on what scholars know of Hebrew and Egyptian, the question is still not answerable, so you aren't alone in that. There is currently no understanding for what is meant.

And thirdly, writing in “Reformed Egyptian” came at a price. It enabled them to condense a large amount of text in a small space, which was a good thing; but it also introduced imperfections into the written record, which was an undesirable side effect.

This is a particularly problematic statement from Moroni. Linguistically, it isn't correct unless the writing system does not actually represent language. For example, the Mixtec and Aztec codices reproduced language only in rebus associations. Those texts required an accompanying text for which they appear to have been a mnemonic. That certainly would allow a text to "introduce" inherent differences. However, if the script represented language, then it is a question of how well it represented language, and that becomes a more difficult case to make.

What it would suggest to me is that Hebrew was considered a sacred language and more appropriate to the message. That, of course, is a complete guess at Moroni's meaning, but it is a guess based on what I understand of languages and writing systems.

Again, how that process worked is not made clear in the book. The implications of all of that seem to me to be that Hebrew (or the dialect of it that was indigenously developed by them) was their “normal” language, not Egyptian or Reformed Egyptian.

Sorry, but that is a big leap. Saying that Hebrew was known to those who could read and write and saying that it was therefore the common language is simply not a conclusion that can be drawn with accuracy. There are simply too many social reasons arguing against the retention of Hebrew as the daily language and none of those reasons impact its retention as a scribal language.

Another factor that needs to be considered here is the miraculous nature of translation. When you are dealing with a miracle, then it throws off a lot of the calculations. Mormon and Moroni complain a lot about the “imperfections” in their records; but at the same time he is expressing the hope that through the miraculous nature of the translation process, God will actually iron out the imperfections and make up the difference!

You have just added another argument to my suggestion that the basic translation method was functional rather than literal.

In other words, the words of the Book of Mormon were not written and then translated like a normal book would be; but they have gone into the Lord’s mouth, and then come out of the Lord’s mouth, and in the process something has happened to it! That throws off a lot of the calculations, and limits very considerably what conclusions we can draw about the original language or manuscript of the Book of Mormon by just looking at the translated text. I remain puzzled how someone can write a 400 page book on that, until I have read your book!

I agree that it was miraculous, but rather disagree that because a miracle was involved that we can't understand quite a bit about the process. Obviously, that is the reason there is a book attempting to explain that. The fact that it took a book is the reason that it is difficult to condense into a quick statement on a message board, and I apologize for that.

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Sorry, but that is a big leap. Saying that Hebrew was known to those who could read and write and saying that it was therefore the common language is simply not a conclusion that can be drawn with accuracy. There are simply too many social reasons arguing against the retention of Hebrew as the daily language and none of those reasons impact its retention as a scribal language.

There are other verses in the Book of Mormon that help us come closer to an answer to that question:

Omni 1
:

17 And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time;
and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them;
and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them.

That tells us that (a) the Nephites had been able to preserve their original native tongue better than the people of Zarahemla had done; and (b) that it is their “written record” that had enabled them to do it. That written record of course refers to the Brass Plates of Laban, which was written in “Egyptian”. The question here is, was it written in the Egyptian language, or was it written in Hebrew but using Egyptian characters? All the accounts (including the Isaiah quotes in the BOM) suggests that it is most likely to have been written in Hebrew, but using Egyptian characters—otherwise we would have to find an explanation for why the Jews would have preferred to have their prophetic literature translated into Egyptian rather than preserved in their original native Hebrew. That suggests to me a certain amount of “persistent continuity” in the preservation of their native original tongue, which militates against the idea that they ended up by the time of Moroni speaking a language that miles apart from the original Hebrew. The dialect would have naturally changed over a period of nearly a thousand years; but no so drastically as to almost make it a different language.

You have just added another argument to my suggestion that the basic translation method was functional rather than literal.

That does not necessarily follow. If it was the Lord who actually did the translating (although in a manner that kept Joseph Smith intellectually engaged in the process), as I believe was the case, then anything could have happened, including the Lord giving to Joseph Smith a “literal” rendering of a perfect Hebrew equivalent of what was on the plates! The Isaiah passages provide a case in point. Those passages are literal translations, as we know from the KJV. Now unless you adhere to the view that Joseph Smith literally copied them from the Bible (which I do not believe for one moment is what happened), then we must conclude that that is exactly how the Lord gave them to Him by revelation; and therefore that is the Lord’s preference for how the translation should be done, and that is how the rest of the Book of Mormon was done. In addition, we have the words of Joseph Smith himself testifying that the title page of Book of Mormon is a literal translation of what was found on the plates.

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There are other verses in the Book of Mormon that help us come closer to an answer to that question:

Zerinus, is there any chance of you reading his book ? You seem to assume that he's not taking many verses into consideration, or is not aware of them -- all the while engaging specific arguments and counterarguments that are actually extensively covered in the book.

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otherwise we would have to find an explanation for why the Jews would have preferred to have their prophetic literature translated into Egyptian rather than preserved in their original native Hebrew.

The Septuagint, targums (including modern ones into Lishan Didan- a Neo-Aramaic dialect) and the Tafsir should all tell you something.

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Omni 1:

17 And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time;
and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them;
and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them.

That tells us that (a) the Nephites had been able to preserve their original native tongue better than the people of Zarahemla had done; and (b) that it is their “written record” that had enabled them to do it.

Yes, that is what it says. Unfortunately, it has to be a folk explanation because otherwise it just doesn't work. The peoples of Nephi and Mulek had been in the New World only 400 years, and that isn't long enough for the same language to develop into two mutually unintelligible dialects (let alone records). Something else is happening here.

While the Nephite record certainly allowed them to retain a connection to the Old World language, the more important was the connection to religion. Note that the real problem for the people of Mulek was that they had forgotten their God. By the way, Nephi has some unusual uses for the word "language" (or perhaps Joseph in translation), some of which appear to reflect culture more than linguistic definitions.

The question here is, was it written in the Egyptian language, or was it written in Hebrew but using Egyptian characters?

Excellent question, for which there is no available evidence.

All the accounts (including the Isaiah quotes in the BOM) suggests that it is most likely to have been written in Hebrew, but using Egyptian characters—otherwise we would have to find an explanation for why the Jews would have preferred to have their prophetic literature translated into Egyptian rather than preserved in their original native Hebrew.

You can make the argument, but it isn't on the basis of evidence, certainly not "all the accounts." Frankly, I don't know why Isaiah wouldn't have been written in Hebrew, even if other parts of the record were "Egyptian." Even saying that, however, we only have some reason for saying that when Nephi is writing. What happens when Abinadi is quoting Isaiah is absolutely speculative.

The dialect would have naturally changed over a period of nearly a thousand years; but no so drastically as to almost make it a different language.

That statement is not informed by an understanding of historical linguistics, and particularly a linguistic situation with multiple available languages.

That does not necessarily follow. If it was the Lord who actually did the translating (although in a manner that kept Joseph Smith intellectually engaged in the process), as I believe was the case, then anything could have happened, including the Lord giving to Joseph Smith a “literal” rendering of a perfect Hebrew equivalent of what was on the plates!

That is the issue. How was the translation done, and can it be discerned through evidence rather than assertion? That is why it took a book to explain it. In short, however, the evidence I see in the text contradicts your assumption. I believe that Joseph was the translator, not the Lord (or any other divine entity). I believe that evidence supports that claim.

The Isaiah passages provide a case in point. Those passages are literal translations, as we know from the KJV.

I'm sorry, but that sentence doesn't make any sense. The KJV is hardly a literal translation of the Hebrew (or even necessarily the best one). However, most of what we have in the Book of Mormon replicates the KJV, and makes no change whatsoever, so it is difficult to call that a translation at all.

Now unless you adhere to the view that Joseph Smith literally copied them from the Bible (which I do not believe for one moment is what happened),

I respect your belief, but there is some very important evidence that contradicts your belief. Of course, the evidence suggests that he didn't have a Bible from which he copied, but nevertheless, the evidence is very strong that he did. That's one of the fun conundrums I address.

then we must conclude that that is exactly how the Lord gave them to Him by revelation; and therefore that is the Lord’s preference for how the translation should be done, and that is how the rest of the Book of Mormon was done.

That packs a lot of assumptions into one sentence. I agree with you that Joseph received the Book of Mormon by revelation. However, we still have the issue of the plate text and its relationship to the English - and the source of the English. Assigning a divine role in the process does not define the answer to the other questions a priori.

In addition, we have the words of Joseph Smith himself testifying that the title page of Book of Mormon is a literal translation of what was found on the plates.

I've heard that literally a million times. Well, maybe not using "literally' literally.

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I guess I hadn't noticed it before, but I really don't have a personal agenda. I do have a personal understanding of the text, and I have questions for which I have tried to find answers. I am more interested in the answers, and discussion will hone them. I've been wrong enough in the past that I expect it in the future. Of course, being wrong in print would be a lot more embarrassing, but if it results in better understanding I'm all for it.

I certainly don't have all the answers, just a different perspective. Even if you are wrong on a few issues (and really, in the end, who's to say?), in my mind there will never be a need to feel embarrassed about putting so much effort into helping clarify issues pertaining to the Book of Mormon, even if it's simply opening the door to further analysis that pushes towards greater understanding. I believe that's a worthy cause to devote one's time and talents towards and you've done that as effectively as anyone I know.

Through your efforts in this book, I've had to question many of my previous assumptions and refine my arguments, so I'm very grateful.

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Zerinus, is there any chance of you reading his book ? You seem to assume that he's not taking many verses into consideration, or is not aware of them -- all the while engaging specific arguments and counterarguments that are actually extensively covered in the book.

Agreed.

Despite our disagreements, Brant has put forth a serious analysis of all of these issues in print and I would appreciate it if anyone who wishes to counter his claims here in this thread, to do so after reading what Brant has to say. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from reading this important book via this thread, to the contrary, I believe that this is a must read for anyone who is at all interested in Book of Mormon scholarship.

My purpose in this thread is not to prove Brant wrong, but rather to illustrate to believers who have read this book, why in my mind, the case for Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon is still very much an open debate. Sadly, I don't have very much time right now to explore the issue in detail, but hopefully this thread will get an informed discussion rolling, so to speak.

Given the importance of this topic, and Brant's contributions to Book of Mormon scholarship, this is just the beginning of many conversations to come.

Much love to all,

--DB

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Zerinus, is there any chance of you reading his book ? You seem to assume that he's not taking many verses into consideration, or is not aware of them -- all the while engaging specific arguments and counterarguments that are actually extensively covered in the book.

Agreed.

Despite our disagreements, Brant has put forth a serious analysis of all of these issues in print and I would appreciate it if anyone who wishes to counter his claims here in this thread, to do so after reading what Brant has to say. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from reading this important book via this thread, to the contrary, I believe that this is a must read for anyone who is at all interested in Book of Mormon scholarship.

My purpose in this thread is not to prove Brant wrong, but rather to illustrate to believers who have read this book, why in my mind, the case for Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon is still very much an open debate. Sadly, I don't have very much time right now to explore the issue in detail, but hopefully this thread will get an informed discussion rolling, so to speak.

Given the importance of this topic, and Brant's contributions to Book of Mormon scholarship, this is just the beginning of many conversations to come.

Much love to all,

--DB

I think that Brant is perfectly capable of answering for himself. I don't think that he needs you two to act as his spokesman.

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Yes, that is what it says. Unfortunately, it has to be a folk explanation because otherwise it just doesn't work. The peoples of Nephi and Mulek had been in the New World only 400 years, and that isn't long enough for the same language to develop into two mutually unintelligible dialects (let alone records). Something else is happening here.

While the Nephite record certainly allowed them to retain a connection to the Old World language, the more important was the connection to religion. Note that the real problem for the people of Mulek was that they had forgotten their God. By the way, Nephi has some unusual uses for the word "language" (or perhaps Joseph in translation), some of which appear to reflect culture more than linguistic definitions.

Allow me to quote Omni 1:17 one more time, with more relevant parts of it highlighted:

And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time;
and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them;
and they denied the being of their Creator; and
Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them
.

I see a number of contradictions or inconsistencies in your two paragraphs quoted above:

  1. You are asking me to choose between your assumptions and Book of Mormon assertions. The above verse makes it clear that after 400 years their dialects had changed sufficiently that the Nephites could no longer understand them—and there is no evidence that “something else has been happening”. You are making some unwarranted assumptions her.
  2. There is a contradiction between what you have said here, and what you said further down in the same post. In response to my assertion that “The dialect would have naturally changed over a period of nearly a thousand years; but no so drastically as to almost make it a different language,” you replied by saying, “That statement is not informed by an understanding of historical linguistics, and particularly a linguistic situation with multiple available languages.” So which is it? Would a dialect change drastically over several hindered years, or wouldn’t it? You do not appear to be very sure.
  3. “The more important connection” was not with religion, but the fact that their language had changed sufficiently that they could no longer understand each other. The fact that they had also “forgotten their God” is a separate issue unrelated to the linguistic one we are discussing. The Book of Mormon makes it clear that their language had sufficiently changed that they could no longer understand one nether; and it cites their lack of “records” as partly responsible for that.

Excellent question, for which there is no available evidence.

Well there is circumstantial evidence, as expressed below, which is better than “no available evidence”.

You can make the argument, but it isn't on the basis of evidence, certainly not "all the accounts." Frankly, I don't know why Isaiah wouldn't have been written in Hebrew, even if other parts of the record were "Egyptian." Even saying that, however, we only have some reason for saying that when Nephi is writing. What happens when Abinadi is quoting Isaiah is absolutely speculative.

Sorry Brant, that makes no sense. You are asking me to jump through several hoops in order to accept your theory, whereas my theory fits in with the natural reading of the book, without having to jump through any hoops! Which option do you think I am going to choose? I have no reason to believe that the Isaiah passages in the Brass Plates were written in a different language from the rest. And what about other OT passages quoted in the BOM, such as Malachi? Were they also written in Hebrew while the rest were written in Egyptian? I become suspicious of an argument that makes me jump through too many hoops to accept it.

That statement is not informed by an understanding of historical linguistics, and particularly a linguistic situation with multiple available languages.

See above. The only thing that I need to add here is that there is no evidence of “multiple available languages” in the Book of Mormon, apart from Hebrew and (possibly) Egyptian; and that does not provide sufficient grounds for believing in dramatic dialect change among the Nephites.

That is the issue. How was the translation done, and can it be discerned through evidence rather than assertion? That is why it took a book to explain it. In short, however, the evidence I see in the text contradicts your assumption. I believe that Joseph was the translator, not the Lord (or any other divine entity). I believe that evidence supports that claim.

I agree that Joseph Smith was the translator; but there were limitations placed on what he could do, as attested by these verses:

D&C 9
:

8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

9 But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore,
you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me
.

This, coupled with the quotations from the Book of Mormon given earlier, that the Book of Mormon should proceed out of the Lord's own mouth, pretty much nails it down that he was quite restricted by what he could do.

I'm sorry, but that sentence doesn't make any sense. The KJV is hardly a literal translation of the Hebrew (or even necessarily the best one). However, most of what we have in the Book of Mormon replicates the KJV, and makes no change whatsoever, so it is difficult to call that a translation at all.

You raise two points here. Firstly, the KJV is a literal translation. It may not be a mechanical translation. Such an absolutely literal translation would be unreadable, or unbearable to read (like Young’s literal translation). Nobody would want to do it that way. But it is far more literal than most modern translations.

Secondly, your belief that the Isaiah passages in the Book of Mormon could not have been “translations” because they are so close to the KJV is not borne out by historical evidence of Bible translations. Have you looked at some of the precursors to the KJV, such as the Bishops Bible or Geneva Bible? This subject has been discussed here before, but I can’t recall the thread. The Bishop’s Bible was an independent translation made in 1568, and was substantially revised in 1572, which formed the basis for the KJV of 1611. The Geneva Bible was another independent translation made in Geneva earlier still, and predates the KJV by 51 years. Her is an example of Isaiah 1:1-10 from the Geneva Bible (spelling modedrnized):

1 A vision of Isaiah, the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah kings of Judah.

2 Hear, O heavens, and hearken, O earth: for the Lord hath said, I have nourished and brought up children, but they have rebelled against me.

3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the *** his master's crib: but Israel hath not known: my people hath not understand.

4 Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity: a seed of the wicked, corrupt children: they have forsaken the Lord: they have provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger: they are gone backward.

5 Wherefore should ye be smitten anymore? For ye fall away more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart is heavy.

6 From the sole of the foot unto the head, there is nothing whole therein, but wounds, and swelling, and sores full of corruption: they have not been wrapped, nor bound up, nor mollified with oil.

7 Your land is waste: your cities are burned with fire: strangers devour your land in your presence, and it is desolate like the overthrow of strangers.

8 And the daughter of Zion shall remain like a cottage in a vineyard, like a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, and like a besieged city.

9 Except the Lord of hosts had reserved unto us, even a small remnant: we should have been as Sodom, and should have been like unto Gomorrah.

10 Hear the word of the Lord, O princes of Sodom: hearken unto the law of our God, O people of Gomorrah.

As you can see, it is pretty close to the KJV. Here is the same passage from the Bishops Bible, with the original spelling (I couldn’t find a modernized version):

1 The vision of Esai ye sonne of Amos, which he sawe vpon Iuda and Hierusalem, in the dayes of Uzia & Ioathan, Ahaz and Iehezekiah, kinges of Iuda.

2 Heare O heauens, and hearken O earth: for the Lorde hath spoken, I haue norished and brought vp children, and they haue done vnfaithfully against me.

3 The oxe hath knowen his owner, and the asse his maisters cribbe: [but] Israel hath not knowen, my people hath geuen no heede.

4 Ah sinnefull nation, a people laden with iniquitie, a seede of the wicked, corrupt children: they haue forsaken the Lorde, they haue prouoked the holy one of Israel vnto anger, they are gone backwarde.

5 Why shoulde ye be stricken any more? [for] ye are euer fallyng away: euery head is diseased, and euery heart heauy:

6 From the sole of the foote vnto the head there is nothyng sounde in it: [but] woundes, blaynes, and putrifiyng sore: they haue not ben salued, neither wrapped vp, neither molified with the oyntment.

7 Your lande is wasted, your cities are burnt vp, straungers deuour your lande before your face, and it is made desolate, as it were the destruction of enemies [in the tyme of warre.]

8 And the daughter of Sion shalbe left as a cotage in a vineyarde, lyke a lodge in a garden of Cucumbers, lyke a besieged citie.

9 Except the Lorde of hoastes had left vs a small remnaunt, we shoulde haue ben as Sodoma, & lyke vnto Gomorra.

10 Heare the worde of the Lord ye lordes of Sodoma, and hearken vnto the lawe of our God thou people of Gomorra.

The similarity here is not surprising of course, because the Bishops Bible served as a basis of the KJV; but it proves a point, that it is not such an unheard of thing that one translation should form the basis for another. Evidently the Lord considered the KJV to be such a good translation already that very little change was needed to improve on it, therefore He used it as the basis for the biblical (not just the Isaiah) passages in the book of Mormon. I don’t see how anyone can argue against that.

I respect your belief, but there is some very important evidence that contradicts your belief. Of course, the evidence suggests that he didn't have a Bible from which he copied, but nevertheless, the evidence is very strong that he did. That's one of the fun conundrums I address.

I haven’t read your book of course; but I very much doubt that you will be able to present me with evidence or arguments that would convince me that Joseph Smith copied the biblical passages from the KJV. Such a theory would not just affect the lengthy Isaiah quotes, but other lengthy quotes such as those from Malachi and Micah by the Lord in Third Nephi. Did Joseph Smith just copy these passages from the KJV? I don’t think so!

Edited by zerinus

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I haven’t read your book of course; but I very much doubt that you will be able to present me with evidence or arguments, [etc]

So are you going to read the book and find out exactly what the form and content of his evidence and arguments are?

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So are you going to read the book and find out exactly what the form and content of his evidence and arguments are?

Whether I do or not is none of your business; but in either case, as you can see, I don't need to do that in order to debate the subject with him in this thread.

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Whether I do or not is none of your business; but in either case, as you can see, I don't need to do that in order to debate the subject with him in this thread.

An instant classic quote.

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I see a number of contradictions or inconsistencies in your two paragraphs quoted above:

You are asking me to choose between your assumptions and Book of Mormon assertions. The above verse makes it clear that after 400 years their dialects had changed sufficiently that the Nephites could no longer understand them—and there is no evidence that “something else has been happening”. You are making some unwarranted assumptions her.

I am requesting no such choice. I am suggesting that as a text written by an ancient people, we may expect to see some of the same kinds of interpretations of data that we see in other ancient texts, such as the Bible. Next, it is quite certain that they couldn't understand each other, and that tells us that something quite different from a simple "corruption" of language has taken place. Natural language drift doesn't happen that fast. We might not understand everything an Aussie says (and vice versa) but we are hardly mutually unintelligible. That "something else" is most plausible a change in language, not linguistic drift from Hebrew.

There is a contradiction between what you have said here, and what you said further down in the same post. In response to my assertion that “The dialect would have naturally changed over a period of nearly a thousand years; but no so drastically as to almost make it a different language,” you replied by saying, “That statement is not informed by an understanding of historical linguistics, and particularly a linguistic situation with multiple available languages.” So which is it? Would a dialect change drastically over several hindered years, or wouldn’t it? You do not appear to be very sure.

I am not sure why there is a confusion. All languages change, and they change more with a longer time period. There is a significant difference between 400 years and 1000 years in how much a language changes from a common original.

"The more important connection” was not with religion, but the fact that their language had changed sufficiently that they could no longer understand each other.

Well, I suppose we are in the realm of interpretation here. Since they did learn enough of their language to know that they had forgotten their God, and the religion on the plates maintained the connection to God regardless on the common language, I clearly favor their apostasy as being a more important issue than language. It certainly is more important throughout the book of Mosiah, which begins in the aftermath of a civil rebellion between religious ideas, not language.

Sorry Brant, that makes no sense. You are asking me to jump through several hoops in order to accept your theory, whereas my theory fits in with the natural reading of the book, without having to jump through any hoops!

Your theory agrees with the way you read the text, therefore you must read it correctly. I understand that perspective, while I don't agree with it.

I have no reason to believe that the Isaiah passages in the Brass Plates were written in a different language from the rest. And what about other OT passages quoted in the BOM, such as Malachi? Were they also written in Hebrew while the rest were written in Egyptian? I become suspicious of an argument that makes me jump through too many hoops to accept it.

Malachi is an interesting issue. I don't know what language those quotations were recorded in. They were given orally and didn't come from the brass plates (obvious, since they were written long after Lehi left Jerusalem). What language did Christ use in speaking to the people? We have absolutely no way of knowing. Any answer is a guess. However, there is no way that Malachi could be used as evidence for any specific language precisely because it was delivered orally.

See above. The only thing that I need to add here is that there is no evidence of “multiple available languages” in the Book of Mormon, apart from Hebrew and (possibly) Egyptian; and that does not provide sufficient grounds for believing in dramatic dialect change among the Nephites.

It is certainly possible to create a story for the Book of Mormon where it occurred without any contact with any other population. Frankly, it isn't a very plausible story. Only in the absence of any other Amerind population could you make the case that there were not multiple available languages. That hypothesis cannot be supported in very many places during that time period in the New World, and all of them of which I am aware were uninhabited. Even the lightly inhabited areas appear to have had multiple language options. So, if you wish to argue that there were real Nephites, it is historically and archaeologically imperative that you allow for "others" in your hypothesis.

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Second part of the answer - there were two many quotation blocks for a single post.

I agree that Joseph Smith was the translator; but there were limitations placed on what he could do, as attested by these verses:

D&C 9
:

8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

9 But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore,
you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me
.

Are you sure that a revelation to Oliver is applicable to Joseph? There is no indication that they translated the same way, and good evidence that they did not.

This, coupled with the quotations from the Book ofMormon given earlier, that the Book of Mormon should proceed out of the Lord'sown mouth, pretty much nails it down that he was quite restricted by what hecould do.

Why, then do all scriptures from prophets have different vocabularies andstyles? Why is Isaiah so different from Jeremiah? Are you suggesting that theprophet contributes nothing to the revelation? Of course, I agree that yourhypothesis is one of the possibilities in how Joseph translated, but it is onethat should be answered with evidence rather than firm assertion withoutexamining the data.

You raise two points here. Firstly, the KJV is a literal translation. Itmay not be a mechanical translation. Such an absolutely literal translationwould be unreadable, or unbearable to read (like Young’s literal translation).Nobody would want to do it that way. But it is far more literal than mostmodern translations.

The KJV makes a conscious attempt to retain a fair amount of the Hebrew flavorof the text. Because even translations attempting to reproduce the flavor ofthe original must interpret the original, there is no way to guarantee that theKJV it the most accurate translation of the meaning of the text it translates. Infact, there are known confusions and places where a meaning was rendered froman underlying text that didn't actually make a lot of sense.

Secondly, your belief that the Isaiah passages in the Book of Mormoncould not have been “translations” because they are so close to the KJV is notborne out by historical evidence of Bible translations. Have you looked at someof the precursors to the KJV, such as the Bishops Bible or Geneva Bible?

It is absolutely possible to copy a text without every having a clue of theunderlying language. Copying is not translating, and when the Book of Mormoncopies the KJV (and does so in ways that indicate that it was a copy) then wehave a copy, not a translation. There is no evidence that Isaiah was translatedafresh and that it just so happened to look exactly like the KJV.

The similarity here is not surprising of course, because the BishopsBible served as a basis of the KJV; but it proves a point, that it is not suchan unheard of thing that one translation should form the basis foranother.

Except that when one borrows the previous translation, it is copying from thetranslation, not creating a new translation.

Evidently the Lord considered the KJV to be such a goodtranslation already that very little change was needed to improve on it

I havea hard time agreeing with your hypothesis.

therefore He used it as the basis for the biblical (not just theIsaiah) passages in the book of Mormon. I don’t see how anyone can argueagainst that.

It is certain that the KJV was used. There is no question there. However,copying isn't translating, and the evidence points to copying, not a freshtranslation. Of course, there is more evidence that I care to deal with on aboard, but it is available.

I haven’t read your book of course; but I very much doubt that you willbe able to present me with evidence or arguments that would convince me thatJoseph Smith copied the biblical passages from the KJV.

Always good to know what I am up against.

Such a theory would not just affect the lengthy Isaiah quotes, but otherlengthy quotes such as those from Malachi and Micah by the Lord in Third Nephi.

We agree.

Did Joseph Smith just copy these passages from the KJV? I don’t thinkso!

I do! Darn, a stalemate. Now, if we could just appeal to some data. . . .

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I am requesting no such choice. I am suggesting that as a text written by an ancient people, we may expect to see some of the same kinds of interpretations of data that we see in other ancient texts, such as the Bible. Next, it is quite certain that they couldn't understand each other, and that tells us that something quite different from a simple "corruption" of language has taken place. Natural language drift doesn't happen that fast. We might not understand everything an Aussie says (and vice versa) but we are hardly mutually unintelligible. That "something else" is most plausible a change in language, not linguistic drift from Hebrew.

Zerinus seems unaware of the phenomenon where in the absence of a strong and vibrant literary (and almost as importantly- liturgical) tradition, languages have the tendency- though not absolute- of being replaced by the language of a more influential group. This was the case with Cornish. The Bible wasn't translated into Cornish, and coupled with the introduction of the English prayerbook, proved disastrous for the language. It had mostly died out by the 19th century. There were isolated speakers and vestiges of Cornish, but that was it. In the 16th most any Cornishman visiting Wales or Brittany could have been understood to a good degree by a Welshman or Breton and vice-versa. This certainly would not have been the case for the 19th century if the Welshman or Breton had no English.

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It is certain that the KJV was used. There is no question there. However,copying isn't translating, and the evidence points to copying, not a freshtranslation. Of course, there is more evidence that I care to deal with on aboard, but it is available.

Brant,

I do you see the copying with a physical copy of the KJV in the room used to compose the BOM or are you proposing the copying happened by some other mechanism?

Phaedrus

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Brant,

I do you see the copying with a physical copy of the KJV in the room used to compose the BOM or are you proposing the copying happened by some other mechanism?

Phaedrus

I believe that according to eye witness testimony a Bible was not used to copy from.

Edited by Mola Ram Suda Ram

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I believe that according to eye witness testimony a Bible was not used to copy from.

At the very least, as I understand it, that was Emma, referring to when she was present during the translation. While Emma was one of the earliest scribes, (if I recall, during some of the lost Book of Lehi material) most of the 'copying' , or direct citations of the large chunks of Isaiah would have been done near the very end of the translation process (when the 'small plates' portion was being composed).

That being said, I find Gardner's suggestion of 'seeing' the relevant KJV text (with italics) separate from a physical copy in front of him fascinating, and making sense in context of his greater argument.

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Brant,

I do you see the copying with a physical copy of the KJV in the room used to compose the BOM or are you proposing the copying happened by some other mechanism?

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that he used a copy of the KJV, but there is no indication that he did and statements that he didn't. It appears that the data stack against a copy being present (besides, how much could he have read if he had his face in the hat?).pardon.gif

Nevertheless, I do believe that the evidence of italics tells us that he saw a page before him. My suggestion is that it appeared in his visual memory, which I also suggest was of the type described as eidetic (there are some whose mental pictures are more vivid, persistent, and detailed than for most of us). I invoke divinity to trigger the appropriate memories of a page he had seen, and then Joseph read from the page in visual memory just as he might have from a book.

If you are familiar with his proposed proof during the Bainbridge trial, it would be a very similar process.

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At the very least, as I understand it, that was Emma, referring to when she was present during the translation. While Emma was one of the earliest scribes, (if I recall, during some of the lost Book of Lehi material) most of the 'copying' , or direct citations of the large chunks of Isaiah would have been done near the very end of the translation process (when the 'small plates' portion was being composed).

It's true that Emma acted as a scribe early on, but during the rest of the time she was in the room almost daily while the translation occurred with the plates on the table under a cloth, etc. Several of the Whitmers also said that no other text was used. Like Brant, I think the testimonies lean against the idea of another manuscript being present.

That being said, I find Gardner's suggestion of 'seeing' the relevant KJV text (with italics) separate from a physical copy in front of him fascinating, and making sense in context of his greater argument.

Agreed.

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