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beastie

Zelph, the White Lamanite

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Juliann,

I understand you think Zelph has been recycled over and over and has no interest. What I don't understand is why you continue to post on this thread despite this opinion. You protest against trolling, when you continue to post on a thread when you have no interest in the topic, and don't view it as a valid topic of conversation. To me, that is trolling.

I realize that most LDS do not believe everything that a prophet says comes from God. But I was under the impression that LDS had a different opinion of the matter when the prophet labeled the statement "revelation". It's one more interesting piece of the puzzle to hear that even a "revelation" can be disregarded by believers.

Ray,

In regards to duplicating the creation of the BoM - your statements are just another variation of the original "challenge", which is flawed at its root. Why? Because it includes standards and requirements that not even the BoM meets. The last time this "challenge" arose on ZLMB, I asked that we come up with the bare bones requirements, ie, those items that were clearly proven and accepted. No response. No interest. This is not a genuine challenge, it is a way to avoid discussing problematic issues within the BoM. Can and have people written remarkable documents within a very short amount of time that have impacted the lives of many people? Yes. That isn't the question. The question is could someone have written a document containing accurate details about an ancient culture that he/she could have had no way of knowing. To refine that challenge, first the accurate details should be clear and verified as accurate, and then it must be shown that there was no way for the writer to have been exposed to this information. And that is the crux of the disagreement between believers in the historicity of the BoM and nonbelievers. Brant offers a long list of accurate details, yet closer inspection reveals that either they are only accurate in an extremely generic fashion, or they are only accurate with a lot of qualifiers. Others have repeatedly shown how the information JS included in the BoM was accessible at the time period. So then believers demand that skeptics put the actual sources right in JS' hand. The point is that there are simply no standards for this challenge that both sides would agree upon as fair and reasonable. I can't "prove" JS read, or heard sermons by people who referred to, say, The View of the Hebrews, but I can "prove" that it wouldn't take a supernatural event for him to have done so. From my past conversations with believers, that is not good enough. The bar always shifts higher and higher. My personal opinion is that even a verified, signed confession by JS stating that he created the BoM without supernatural intervention wouldn't convince certain believers. The bar would simply shift again. So that is a pointless conversation, and I prefer to discuss whether or not the "accurate details of the ancient culture" are indeed accurate.

Like, for example, what are the odds that JS would have happened upon the bones of an albino Mesoamerican, when a large portion of the original BoM stated that Lamanites became white due to their purity? The odds, I imagine, are astronomical. But good enough for some believers who embrace LGT, apparently. Yet those same believers wouldn't accept the odds that JS had been exposed to ideas in certain texts that were available at the time period without it being proven that JS had those documents in his hands. Our standards are clearly different.

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The last time this "challenge" arose on ZLMB, I asked that we come up with the bare bones requirements, ie, those items that were clearly proven and accepted.  No response.  No interest.  This is not a genuine challenge, it is a way to avoid discussing problematic issues within the BoM.  Can and have people written remarkable documents within a very short amount of time that have impacted the lives of many people?  Yes.  That isn't the question.  The question is could someone have written a document containing accurate details about an ancient culture that he/she could have had no way of knowing.  To refine that challenge, first the accurate details should be clear and verified as accurate, and then it must be shown that there was no way for the writer to have been exposed to this information.  And that is the crux of the disagreement between believers in the historicity of the BoM and nonbelievers.  Brant offers a long list of accurate details, yet closer inspection reveals that either they are only accurate in an extremely generic fashion, or they are only accurate with a lot of qualifiers.  Others have repeatedly shown how the information JS included in the BoM was  accessible at the time period.  So then believers demand that skeptics put the actual sources right in JS' hand.  The point is that there are simply no standards for this challenge that both sides would agree upon as fair and reasonable.  I can't "prove" JS read, or heard sermons by people who referred to, say, The View of the Hebrews, but I can "prove" that it wouldn't take a supernatural event for him to have done so.  From my past conversations with believers, that is not good enough.  The bar always shifts higher and higher.  My personal opinion is that even a verified, signed confession by JS stating that he created the BoM without supernatural intervention wouldn't convince certain believers.  The bar would simply shift again.  So that is a pointless conversation, and I prefer to discuss whether or not the "accurate details of the ancient culture" are indeed accurate.

Like, for example, what are the odds that JS would have happened upon the bones of an albino Mesoamerican, when a large portion of the original BoM stated that Lamanites became white due to their purity?  The odds, I imagine, are astronomical.  But good enough for some believers who embrace LGT, apparently. Yet those same believers wouldn't accept the odds that JS had been exposed to ideas in certain texts that were available at the time period without it being proven that JS had those documents in his hands. Our standards are clearly different.

Beastie,

To date I have not seen anything to convince me that that someone of Joseph Smith's learning could write something like the BoM. The availability of sources means nothing. Both you and I or anyone else who would care to try to write something about an ancient culture have far, far more resources to do so, and modern technology surpassing anything Joseph had, which was NONE. So your point on the availability of sources is a lame one.

People who write works in a short period of time is also a subject that deserves scrutiny. When you look more closely you'll find that nothing compares to the speed and accuracy of the production of the BoM. You talk about gaps, well the critics have to resort to things like trying to extend the time of production back to 1827, or even 1823, so they can explain away why such a short period must be considered miraculous. Why do they do it? If you are so certain that Joseph could have produced the BoM in 65 days, why bother attempting to prove all these extensions? The connections with Cowdery are also as unproved as Zelph, and we have several statements from Cowdery himself categorically stating that he had nothing to do with the writing of the BoM, yet the critics come up with all these bogus, silly, unfounded theories to try to make the process look natural. They make the Zelph incident look credible.

So beastie, let's be fair. If you are not a believer then you'll resort to trying to naturalise the BoM, and the theories you'll come up with can be as far-fetched as any a believer might come up with to justify the BoM. One big problem with the critics is that they seldom stick to the sources, so when one of the witnesses says something, they actually mean something else. Take Dan Vogel, for instance. We have a bookload of powerful statements from Whitmer stating what he saw and heard, but Dan singles out one or two statements about seeing the plates "spiritually", and even those statements are open to interpretation. You criticise Brant, yet you don't seem to see the obvious that the doubters are far more adept at making a case from very dubious evidence. Sometimes NO evidence.

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So, basically, Ray, you're telling me that there were no white Lamanites, and JS was full of baloney when he stated he had a revelation about a white Lamanite.

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This is why it is so pointless to engage your endless arguing. If a source does not fit your needs, you simply discard it...or pretend that it says something it does not. I am using the link you provided. There is no mention of JS stating he had a revelation about a white Lamanite and the events were obviously not even important enough to him to mention. But that does not bother you a bit when you claim there is.

Who is disregarding sources here, Juliann? How many believers, supporters of JS who would have no reason to attribute statements to him he did not make, wrote in their journals that JS made this statement? It amazes me that you can accuse me of disregarding sources when you are so blatantly doing so. As I stated earlier, there is more contemporaneous support for this vision than for the First Vision. But you feel free to disregard these contemporaneous statements... could it be because those statements, made by believers, do not fit your needs?

This was the conclusion your source came to after analyzing the various accounts:

QUOTE 

If the history of the church were to be revised today using modern historical standards, readers would be informed that Joseph Smith wrote nothing about the discovery of Zelph, and that the account of uncovering the skeleton in Pike County is based on the diaries of seven members of Zion's Camp, some of which were written long after the event took place. We would be assured that the members of Zion's Camp dug up a skeleton near the Illinois River in early June 1834. Equally sure is that Joseph Smith made statements about the deceased person and his historical setting. We would learn that it is unclear which statements attributed to him derived from his vision, as opposed to being implied or surmised either by him or by others. Nothing in the diaries suggests that the mound itself was discovered by revelation.

Furthermore, readers would be told that most sources agree that Zelph was a white Lamanite who fought under a leader named Onandagus (variously spelled). Beyond that, what Joseph said to his men is not entirely clear, judging by the variations in the available sources. 

So to answer your question...yes, you are full of baloney. You are now left with the same seven sources that are put up each and every time you recycle the same question. Do you have some newly discovered document Beastie? The sources thought the bones to belong to a "white Lamanite". What a surprise that this might have been said 150 years ago. NOT. And the very fact that you have to appeal to a nonexistent "revelation" to give this any meaning at all shows what you are up to.

BTW, this is the first time I've brought up Zelph.

Do you carefully read quotations you use? I often wonder. The author is not implying that the fact that JS had a revelation about Zelph is in doubt. He accepts the sources, you do not. He is saying that finding the mound itself was not the result of a revelation. He is saying that JS definitely made statements about a vision he received regarding these bones. Due to the fact that some statements were not repeated by the majority, the author is uncertain about the accuracy of those particular statements. But in the article he also makes clear that, likely due to the fact that six of the seven agreed upon these points, that he accepts the following:

Furthermore, readers would be told that most sources agree that Zelph was a white Lamanite who fought under a leader named Onandagus (variously spelled).

I have specifically avoided using any other of the statements that this author seemed to view as more questionable, such as the battle participation. I have specifically used only that which the author seemed to view as most reliable, from the contemporaneous sources: Zelph was a white Lamanite.

In all my postings on the internet, Jullian remains the uncontested queen of selective reading and comprehension. Somehow, she can read this article and decide there was no revelation at all, and that none of the statements made by the witnesses can be accepted as reliable. Now why would she conclude that? In her feat of projection, she reveals why: to admit that JS had a vision/revelation, made statements about that vision, and that certain of those recorded statements can be viewed as reliable due to the fact that nearly all recorders repeated them, does not suit her purpose.

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It amazes me that you can accuse me of disregarding sources when you are so blatantly doing so.  As I stated earlier, there is more contemporaneous support for this vision than for the First Vision.  But you feel free to disregard these contemporaneous statements... could it be because those statements, made by believers, do not fit your needs?

In Beastie's world not agreeing with her absolutely wild conclusions is "disregarding sources". That's odd...because I am the only one quoting those very sources! :P

So heeeeerrree we go on Beastie's mystical merry-go-round of "I know what was really said even though it wasn't said". And this is why each and every thread that Beastie gets involved in devolves into endless posts of nothing but correcting her disinformation, misinformation and no information. You abandoned the last thread when you weren't allowed to out run your twisted renditions. Well...I'm ready to go again!

BTW, this is the first time I've brought up Zelph.

Yes. I realize that you are asking us to forget the fact that you monitored a board that had multiple discussions of Zelph that provided every answer possible. That is why we know you are not really looking for answers!

Do you carefully read quotations you use?

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Hi friends,

I encourage you to familiarize yourselves with the primary sources that discuss Joseph Smith's Zelph vision

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Hi Julie,

On the source of Joseph Smith's biographical sketch about Zelph, you assert:

[Juliann @ Jan 16 2005, 12:54 PM]

JS did not state he had a revelation.

... and ...

[Juliann @ Jan 16 2005, 12:54 PM]

But JS never called it a revelation.

Eyewitnesses to Joseph's storytelling saw it differently than you.

Heber C. Kimball (Journal Extracts)

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Eyewitnesses to Joseph's storytelling saw it differently than you.

And so they did. But Joseph Smith did not call it a revelation. And that is what Beastie is claiming. I think that is about as clear and evident as it can be, Brent. I haven't seen anyone dispute what the others said.

However, what others said is separate from what JS said and the distinction is important or you would not be here trying to rescue Beastie from her latest disinformation campaign. Again. :P

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Given the documentary evidence, there is sound reason for concluding that Joseph Smith claimed his knowledge about Zelph derived from God.

Oh, I agree.... look how carefully you worded that. Unfortunately, I was not debating that. We are debating what you are calling "his knowledge"...and what Beastie is using for her beast of burden as she packs on all of her unsound conclusions.

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Hi Julie,

Thanks for your prompt reply. You wrote:

[Juliann @ Jan 16 2005, 04:30 PM]

But Joseph Smith did not call it a revelation. And that is what Beastie is claiming. I think that is about as clear and evident as it can be, Brent.

If a self-proclaimed hypnotist mesmerizes an audience by inducing folks to behave like crazed chickens or imperial potentates, we are justified by virtue of his behavior to conclude that he claims he can hypnotize people. If a clairvoyant begins swooning and speaking in a deep, raspy voice saying, "I'm your uncle Poindexter!" we are justified in concluding that said medium claims she can channel uncle Poindexter. And when Joseph implores God to tell him the identity of a deceased person and then reveals intimate details about Zelph, we are justified in concluding that Smith claimed divine revelation for those details.

Or perhaps you view Joseph Smith's prayerful plea followed by a vision in the back of a wagon as merely a sideshow to facilitate expression of his personal opinions about the "white Lamanite"?

My best,

Brent

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

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I don't see much here that changes Beastie's source that she linked to. It elaborates...but we are still left with Zelph and his "whiteness".

I still haven't gotten the so? part from anyone. Why is this surprising? Was the customary terminology when referring to Lamanites and color? Was it, in fact, the norm to consider darker skin cursed throughout the culture? Was it unusual to think that skin color changed? (the answer is no.)

And Brent...this is the type of thing that you do that signals a caution to the reader about bias.

Smith depicts his troops as “wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasional[l]y the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity.” [4] Zelph, a white Lamanite, was grandly positioned against this grisly yet awesome Nephite backdrop.

I am left wondering why anyone would place such a negative, sinister and downright ugly backdrop to what would thrill the daylights out of anyone. Have you never hunted for arrowheads? What if the world had treated the great archeaological discoveries of the day as "grisly"? This tells more about your attitude towards the topic than anything said about the topic.

Also, I had to recheck this to see that you had ended the quote before you grandly positioned a quote about Zelph against your grisly backdrop of what JS "depicts". Witnesses depicted it....but you would have to know that or the assumption would be that you have it straight from JS.

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If a clairvoyant begins swooning and speaking in a deep, raspy voice saying, "I'm your uncle Poindexter!" we are justified in concluding that said medium claims she can channel uncle Poindexter. And when Joseph implores God to tell him the identity of a deceased person and then reveals intimate details about Zelph, we are justified in concluding that Smith claimed divine revelation for those details.

Amusing stories but I'm going to stick to the point. You can produce evidence for a lot of things based on these diaries. You may feel justified. I may feel justified. But saying that "Smith claimed divine revelation for those details." does not tell us what those details were. You can put up all the accounts that you want (and frankly, the more variations that you do put up the more the point becomes clear) but you still have no information from JS himself. And that is a problem for a historian...particularly when you do have an account from him that mentions almost none of this.

Refusing to acknowledge this is not going to make my point or me go away. :P

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It strains credulity to pretend that JS would label any native Mesoamerican "white".

One more time...why? And why does it matter? What is so shocking to you if JS said "white"? Why do you want us to care that JS said "white"? We really do need some more information.

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One more time...why? And why does it matter? What is so shocking to you if JS said "white"? Why do you want us to care that JS said "white"? We really do need some more information.

JS was the one person who not only translated and read the BoM, but had the opportunity to actually meet a real Nephite(s), and, unless we want to assume that the believers who recorded the Zelph episode were not being truthful or all happened to misremember the same detail, had a revelatory vision in which he saw a lamanite. Yet we are asked to disregard his statements and beliefs about those people because, apparently, he is not as well informed as modern LDS LGT apologists.

The reason why it is signficant today is obvious, aside from the battle detail. Zelph was a white lamanite, yet the modern LDS church has moved away from the notion of whiteness being associated with righteousness, and away from the notion of the cursed dark skinned lamanites being turned physically white. Then we add the LGT on top of that re-evaluation, and we conclude that Lamanites and Nephites were actually ethnic Mesoamericans. So the fact that Zelph appeared "white" to JS deserves comment and explanation, when LGT demands that Zelph actually be a native Mesoamerican.

As far as I can tell, the answers so far are:

1) Some Mesoamericans were white, either albino or other aberration, so it is not impossible that Zelph was white, (although one must comment on the extraordinary luck that JS happened upon the bones of one of those aberrant mesoamericans who had wandered so far from home)

2) JS was just expressing his misinformed opinion, and never had a revelation. The fact that the contemporaneous recorders of this event say that he had a vision is irrelevant.

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Exegete wrote:

Smith also delivered extracanonical revelations about Amerindian identity and origins. On 3 June 1834, Smith and a few Zion

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JS was the one person who not only translated and read the BoM, but had the opportunity to actually meet a real Nephite(s), and, unless we want to assume that the believers who recorded the Zelph episode were not being truthful or all happened to misremember the same detail, had a revelatory vision in which he saw a lamanite. Yet we are asked to disregard his statements and beliefs about those people because, apparently, he is not as well informed as modern LDS LGT apologists.

Deja vu. Here is Beastie creating more conversations which I was never in.

The reason why it is signficant today is obvious, aside from the battle detail.  Zelph was a white lamanite, yet the modern LDS church has moved away from the notion of whiteness being associated with righteousness, and away from the notion of the cursed dark skinned lamanites being turned physically white.  Then we add the LGT on top of that re-evaluation, and we conclude that Lamanites and Nephites were actually ethnic Mesoamericans.  So the fact that Zelph appeared "white" to JS deserves comment and explanation, when LGT demands that Zelph actually be a native Mesoamerican.

I don't think that I have ever seen so many red herrings stacked this high. The one I like the best is the "LDS church" moving away from whiteness associated with righteousness. I know that I have ripped all those "your sins will be white as snow" references out of my Bible.

As far as I can tell, the answers so far are:

1)  Some Mesoamericans were white, either albino or other aberration, so it is not impossible that Zelph was white, (although one must comment on the extraordinary luck that JS happened upon the bones of one of those aberrant mesoamericans who had wandered so far from home)

2)  JS was just expressing his misinformed opinion, and never had a revelation.  The fact that the contemporaneous recorders of this event say that he had a vision is irrelevant.

I agree that this is as far as you can tell.

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How do apologists explain that the Zelph affair was J.S rendering his opinion?

I missed that part. Perhaps you can provide the post where that was done before you ask anyone to explain it. Maybe you missed the part where the objection was over the false statements by Seven that JS himself stated these things. He did not.

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Um, what am I missing here?

Beastie (and Brent), it seems Juliann was simply saying that what beastie said was not true. beastie said that Joseph Smith stated something about Zelph the Laminite was a revelation (exact quote in Juliann's post above).

Doesn't Brent's post, by virtue of the fact he provides no Joseph Smith quote, show that Juliann was right and beastie mischaracterized the evidence?

I don't think Juliann has said that she doubted what others said about Joseph Smith, Zelph, revelation etc. - she was merely pointing out that what beastie said that Smith said/stated was inaccurate.

What have I missed. Why paragraphs and paragraphs "responding" to something Juliann never said. Is that overkilling a strawman or something like that?

Q

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Quinn,

the problem is that Juliann is rejecting the contemporaneous accounts without justification. These are friendly accounts written by believers, and some were written very shortly after the event. As I've stated several times on this thread, there is more contemporaneous support/evidence for this "revelation" than for the First Vision. There should be a strong reason to reject so many friendly reports that agree with one another on certain basic points. I haven't seen anyone giving that strong reason.

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Quinn,

the problem is that Juliann is rejecting the contemporaneous accounts without justification. These are friendly accounts written by believers, and some were written very shortly after the event. As I've stated several times on this thread, there is more contemporaneous support/evidence for this "revelation" than for the First Vision. There should be a strong reason to reject so many friendly reports that agree with one another on certain basic points. I haven't seen anyone giving that strong reason.

Sooo ... why not avoid this argument altogether by adding the qualifyer: "it was reported by X in a journal entry dated Y that" to "Joseph Smith said."???

Doesn't this allow you to make your anti-Mo point while avoiding Juliann's quite appropriate IMHO objection?

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I for one am quite interested in receiving an answer to Beastie's questions so... since it is not really being addressed let me first ask:

1. What does one call it when a prophet inquires of the Lord for some specific information and the Lord responds by answering the question in a vision and providing the requested information? I have thought of this as a revelation but it seems like this may be the wrong word?

2. Does anyone on the board deny the truth of the whole Zelph story as believed by JS's associates (see Brents list above)?

3. When JS discussed the information that many think was given to him by the Lord concerning Zelph, was it actually from the Lord? His best guess? A joke? From some other source?

Thanks,

:P

~dancer~

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According to friendly witnesses, Joseph Smith made a number of statements about discovered skeletal remains and an arrowhead. Assuming the witnesses were somewhat accurate in their recordings of the event, there are three possibilities about where JS got the information about the bones and the arrow:

1. By revelation.

2. It was his opinion.

3. He was fabricating the information.

If JS did not receive the information about the bones by revelation, but was merely voicing his opinion; upon what did he base his opinion? Let us consider the phrase “Zelph the white Lamanite.”

1. How did JS know his name was Zelph? Neither JS or the friendly witnesses said there a dog tag or other identification; for example, with the inscription “Zelph serving under the prophet Onandagus?”

2. Identifying the person as a Lamanite is plausible, since JS believed the Indians to be the descendants of the Lamanites and Nephites.

3. How did he know the person was white? Is there any way JS could determine skin color from the skeletal remains?

I do not know of any logical reasons for giving the skeleton the name Zelph or saying its skin color was white. If one does not believe JS received the information by revelation, one must conclude that he was making the information up.

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Sooo ... why not avoid this argument altogether by adding the qualifyer: "it was reported by X in a journal entry dated Y that" to "Joseph Smith said."???

Doesn't this allow you to make your anti-Mo point while avoiding Juliann's quite appropriate IMHO objection?

Given the fact that I linked the article, quote the article, and the article explicitly explains this, I assumed that reasonable people would understand that.

I admit, I've posted on the internet with LDS apologists long enough to know better. One has to be excruciatingly exact and specific, else apologists will run with a minor detail and avoid the crux of the question. But honestly, sometimes I just don't have the time or energy to be so excruciatingly exact, and for one little moment, forget that despite having linked the article, quoted the article, I have to be agonizingly explicit to avoid this sort of nonsense. Particularly with Juliann.

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Sooo ... why not avoid this argument altogether by adding the qualifyer: "it was reported by X in a journal entry dated Y that" to "Joseph Smith said."???

Doesn't this allow you to make your anti-Mo point while avoiding Juliann's quite appropriate IMHO objection?

Given the fact that I linked the article, quote the article, and the article explicitly explains this, I assumed that reasonable people would understand that.

Beastie, Beastie, Beastie. You make this far too much fun. Why not just admit the obvious instead of digging ever deeper holes? You are now telling us that we were supposed to "understand" that the article said JS did not state he received a revelation while you are busily claiming that JS did state he had a revelation?

He [the article Beastie linked to] is saying that JS definitely made statements about a vision he received regarding these bones.

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