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Most compelling evidence for/against the Book of Mormon?

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On 8/22/2016 at 11:26 AM, Buckeye said:

That's nice, but no where close to the bulls-eye I envision. I'm thinking of a pre-babylonian text that matches Jacob 5 to a similar degree that Isaiah's writings match 2nd Nephi. That would be something.

Those of us who do archeology and history find such demands quite unrealistic.  It is like asking us to find an original manuscript by St Paul himself, or one by Abraham.  Or to prove that Abraham, Joseph, and Moses actually existed in actual history.  We simply cannot do it.  But should we realistically expect to be able to find such proof?  Of course not.

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On 08/22/2016 at 10:55 PM, Honorentheos said:

The theology is from the 19th Century.

Although there are some elements, quite a few, that may have a 19th century feel, (and earlier), there are some unique aspects to Book of Mormon theology that set it apart from the mainstream 19th century beliefs. One such is the idea of original sin. Although some pastors believed that people were not born into sin but chose to sin, most denominations that I can ascertain, including the Methodists to which Joseph was more partial, believed in that doctrine. The Book of Mormon denies that people are born in sin as Mormon declares to his son Moroni in chapter 8 of the Book of Moroni that little children are innocent.

The fall of Adam and Eve is also a story that departs significantly from that of 19th century Christian theology. That theology excoriates Adam and Eve for sinning in partaking of the forbidden fruit and thus bringing sin and death into the world. But Lehi tells us in 2 Nephi chapter to that "Adam fell that men might be". He (Lehi) asserts that if they had not partaken of that fruit, they would have remained in that state forever, "And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin."

Can you point to a 19th century denomination that taught that concept?

Thanks,

Glenn

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43 minutes ago, Glenn101 said:

Although there are some elements, quite a few, that may have a 19th century feel, (and earlier), there are some unique aspects to Book of Mormon theology that set it apart from the mainstream 19th century beliefs. One such is the idea of original sin. Although some pastors believed that people were not born into sin but chose to sin, most denominations that I can ascertain, including the Methodists to which Joseph was more partial, believed in that doctrine. The Book of Mormon denies that people are born in sin as Mormon declares to his son Moroni in chapter 8 of the Book of Moroni that little children are innocent.

The fall of Adam and Eve is also a story that departs significantly from that of 19th century Christian theology. That theology excoriates Adam and Eve for sinning in partaking of the forbidden fruit and thus bringing sin and death into the world. But Lehi tells us in 2 Nephi chapter to that "Adam fell that men might be". He (Lehi) asserts that if they had not partaken of that fruit, they would have remained in that state forever, "And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin."

Can you point to a 19th century denomination that taught that concept?

Thanks,

Glenn

The challenge the theologies imposes is that concepts of original sin and the state of Adam are responses to 19th century theology. It's anachronistic to imagine Nephi or Lehi as pre-exilic Jews even taking on these questions. In the context of an inhabited New World, the theological challenges the Nephites contend with are those of the 19th century Christian debate surrounding Joseph's frontier environment rather than those that a real proto-Christian group that migrated to the Americas would have encountered were the text actually ancient in origin.

Lehi is responding to St. Paul and Augustine before they were even born, essentially.

Edited by Honorentheos

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1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

You know full well that the headings are not part of the text, but rather the summaries created by people who likely know nothing about biblical criticism or the historical critical method.  Hiding behind that sort of camouflage doesn't become you, Honorentheos.  You might just as well play with straw men.  Anytime you are ready for a real discussion, let me know.

So I understand the guiding principle here: If we can point to something said in the Book of Mormon that refers to a very well understood traditional biblical story, is specifically called out as referring to this story in the chapter heading in the Book of Mormon itself, and is repeated in lesson manuals and other official material from the LDS church, but is in conflict with the state of modern science (in this case linguistics re: the story of the Tower of Babel) then the correct response is to argue for a hypothetical other unattested or archaic scenario that may or may not align with the core story but creates separation from the need to take the Book of Mormon story literally as understood in the textual guides and lesson manuals provided by the Church. But creates sufficient space from the 19th century understanding conveyed in the Book of Mormon and other LDS materials to align it with more current understanding and the state of the science. Is that correct?

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4 hours ago, Honorentheos said:

The challenge the theologies imposes is that concepts of original sin and the state of Adam are responses to 19th century theology. It's anachronistic to imagine Nephi or Lehi as pre-exilic Jews even taking on these questions. In the context of an inhabited New World, the theological challenges the Nephites contend with are those of the 19th century Christian debate surrounding Joseph's frontier environment rather than those that a real proto-Christian group that migrated to the Americas would have encountered were the text actually ancient in origin.

Lehi is responding to St. Paul and Augustine before they were even born, essentially.

Original sin and the state of Adam predate the 19th Century quite a bit.

But the idea that Adam and Eve would have remained in their innocent state forever, never having children, not knowing either happiness or sadness, etc. is an idea I have never seen advanced by any person or denomination before the advent of the Book of Mormon.

Glenn

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Look, it is obvious that the BOM is a fake.  

1. It talks about the Gadianton robbers, with a standing army, hiding in the mountains -- a clear reference to the Taliban.  

2. Then there are the blood oaths of the Mafia, and their organization.

3. Who can deny that  "King Benjamin"  is an obvious reference to  President Reagan (note the similarity in the names -- both have one "e", one "a", and they both end with an "n", and the sound of the "g" to a "j").  

4. In 2 Nephi we see references to the TV preachers.

This book is a product of the 20th century.  The parallels are sooooooooooooo  obvious.

Edited by cdowis

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2 hours ago, Glenn101 said:

Original sin and the state of Adam predate the 19th Century quite a bit.

But the idea that Adam and Eve would have remained in their innocent state forever, never having children, not knowing either happiness or sadness, etc. is an idea I have never seen advanced by any person or denomination before the advent of the Book of Mormon.

Glenn

Yes, and are developed theological ideas present in the time of Joseph Smith, but not the time of Lehi. Nor would they have been present among the non-Christian Native American inhabitants that were settled in the Americas.

The theological positions in the Book of Mormon present a version of Christianity that claims to have been revealed to prophets to address 19th century theological debates. Speaking of original sin, or the concepts behind it, is anachronistic prior to St. Paul and it's further development as an idea among the early Christian Fathers. It's not that the Book of Mormon provides a unique answer to the question, it's that the Book of Mormon answers a question that didn't exist at the time it is claimed to be representing, but did exist at the time it was composed.

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9 hours ago, Honorentheos said:

So I understand the guiding principle here: If we can point to something said in the Book of Mormon that refers to a very well understood traditional biblical story, is specifically called out as referring to this story in the chapter heading in the Book of Mormon itself, and is repeated in lesson manuals and other official material from the LDS church, but is in conflict with the state of modern science (in this case linguistics re: the story of the Tower of Babel) then the correct response is to argue for a hypothetical other unattested or archaic scenario that may or may not align with the core story but creates separation from the need to take the Book of Mormon story literally as understood in the textual guides and lesson manuals provided by the Church. But creates sufficient space from the 19th century understanding conveyed in the Book of Mormon and other LDS materials to align it with more current understanding and the state of the science. Is that correct?

What is true, Honorentheos, is that reification of all the lesson manuals and headings in the world tells us virtually nothing about the actual text -- which must remain normative and accessible to any reader with the necessary acumen to make sense of it.  We have also seen some misguided but well intentioned person adding a phrase about coinage to the Alma 11, even though the text itself says nothing about coinage.  You can read sources at that low level, if you wish, but a serious scholar will probably wonder why you haven't advanced beyond that point in your exegetical skills.  One might well wonder what your real intention here might be, since you are obviously capable of performance at a much higher level.

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12 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I usually hear this from people who are not really familiar with both sides of the argument, and who come from a powerful apriori set of beliefs which prejudice their appraisal.  Of course that can happen with any pro- or anti-Mormon person or position.  I always hope that we can get past the hardened sets of preconceptions to real discussion of the substantive arguments.

Isn't is possible for someone to be cognizant of all the issues, have an open mind, and still not believe in mormonism and its claims?

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13 hours ago, Glenn101 said:

Although there are some elements, quite a few, that may have a 19th century feel, (and earlier), there are some unique aspects to Book of Mormon theology that set it apart from the mainstream 19th century beliefs. One such is the idea of original sin. Although some pastors believed that people were not born into sin but chose to sin, most denominations that I can ascertain, including the Methodists to which Joseph was more partial, believed in that doctrine. The Book of Mormon denies that people are born in sin as Mormon declares to his son Moroni in chapter 8 of the Book of Moroni that little children are innocent.

The Book of Mormon's take on original sin was not unheard of in the nineteenth century:

Quote

Like their seventeenth-century predecessors, eighteenth-century Baptists technically affirmed original sin (including imputed guilt) in an important defining document, the Philadelphia Confession of 1742. Increasingly, however, Baptists (like the Methodists) came to emphasize original sin as inherited nature, not inherited guilt. Reformed Baptists like Campbell and Stone went further, utterly rejecting original sin. As children could not profess faith, neither could they be culpable for their sins, until they are able to commit themselves to God; a child "is guilty of no other sins before that time." Humans are born innocent, not guilty and depraved. "We are not guilty of Adam's sin.... The guilt of sin attaches only to him who commits sin." With this development, we arrive at a doctrinal position that would be very close to that of Mormonism's founder Joseph Smith.

— Terryl L. Givens, Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Cosmos, God, Humanity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 184.

Joseph Smith's teachings on the fall do seem more distinctive—though John Brooke and others have suggested that Joseph's idea of a sin-free fall was influenced by Hermetic tradition. The idea of a "fortunate fall" had been around since the early church fathers and can be found in Milton's Paradise Lost. Milton's near-contemporary, Giles Fletcher, wrote:

Such joy we gained by our parentalls,
That good, or bad, whither I cannot wiss,
To call it a mishap, or happy miss
That fell from Eden and to heav'n did rise.

(Giles Fletcher, Christ's Triumph over Death (1610), quoted in Arthur O. Lovejoy, "Milton and the Paradox of the Fortunate Fall," ELH: A Journal of English Literary History 4, no. 3 [1937]: 167).

So already in the 1600s we see the idea that Adam's fall brought mankind joy and that it was a fall forward (from Eden to heaven).

Edited by Nevo

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1 hour ago, James Tunney said:

Isn't is possible for someone to be cognizant of all the issues, have an open mind, and still not believe in mormonism and its claims?

Of course.  At the same time, such a person would be willing to discuss the issues intelligently on a substantive basis.  Thoughtful people don't engage in automatic rejection, without even considering the arguments pro and con.  We are talking about overwhelming prejudice, James.  It can happen to anyone, from any side of a debate.  For some, it is very difficult to get past that.  Much easier to make an apriori judgment and have done with it -- as you appear to do.

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28 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Of course.  At the same time, such a person would be willing to discuss the issues intelligently on a substantive basis.  Thoughtful people don't engage in automatic rejection, without even considering the arguments pro and con.  We are talking about overwhelming prejudice, James.  It can happen to anyone, from any side of a debate.  For some, it is very difficult to get past that.  Much easier to make an apriori judgment and have done with it -- as you appear to do.

I don't think you know my history so I don't think you can justify your last statement about prior prejudice, etc. I grew up mormon, went on a mission, read extensively. I was a believer. There was no prior prejudice, just a nagging feeling that there was more to the story. The church's unreasonable fear of the true past led me to think and feel this way. If the church had the truth then why hide the history? The truth should set it free and win every time without the need for apologetics or public relations.

Nevertheless reading and study led me to the conclusion that the church isn't what it claims to be. Frankly reading works by the so called mormon apologists reinforced my non-belief. The apologists don't have good answers and I got tired having to do somersaults in order to justify belief.

I don't expect you to agree with this as the possibility of having rational non-believers must really scare the apologists and hierarchy.

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6 hours ago, Honorentheos said:

Yes, and are developed theological ideas present in the time of Joseph Smith, but not the time of Lehi. Nor would they have been present among the non-Christian Native American inhabitants that were settled in the Americas.

The theological positions in the Book of Mormon present a version of Christianity that claims to have been revealed to prophets to address 19th century theological debates. Speaking of original sin, or the concepts behind it, is anachronistic prior to St. Paul and it's further development as an idea among the early Christian Fathers. It's not that the Book of Mormon provides a unique answer to the question, it's that the Book of Mormon answers a question that didn't exist at the time it is claimed to be representing, but did exist at the time it was composed.

The question of original sin indeed did exist at the time that the Book of Mormon was composed. However, the idea that had not Adam and Eve partaken of the forbidden fruit they would have remained in their paradisiacal state forever was not even being debated. It was (and still is) the contention of all that I have read, no matter which denomination, that had they left that fruit alone, we would be a race of happy, sinless people.

Another aspect 

It is presumptive to say that with a people that were receiving revelations from God concerning the plan of salvation, none of those questions would have come up from dissidents and even believers who needed clarification.

Baptism before Christ is another part of Book or Mormon theology that was not being debated in the 19th century as far as I can ascertain. From what I can understand from my readings, baptism was generally considered the New Testament equivalent of circumcision in the Old Testament. If you have more information otherwise, please let me know. I am not an expert in 19th century theology and debates, so I could be missing something.

Glenn

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3 hours ago, Nevo said:

The Book of Mormon's take on original sin was not unheard of in the nineteenth century:

Joseph Smith's teachings on the fall do seem more distinctive—though John Brooke and others have suggested that Joseph's idea of a sin-free fall was influenced by Hermetic tradition. The idea of a "fortunate fall" had been around since the early church fathers and can be found in Milton's Paradise Lost. Milton's near-contemporary, Giles Fletcher, wrote:

Such joy we gained by our parentalls,
That good, or bad, whither I cannot wiss,
To call it a mishap, or happy miss
That fell from Eden and to heav'n did rise.

(Giles Fletcher, Christ's Triumph over Death (1610), quoted in Arthur O. Lovejoy, "Milton and the Paradox of the Fortunate Fall," ELH: A Journal of English Literary History 4, no. 3 [1937]: 167).

So already in the 1600s we see the idea that Adam's fall brought mankind joy and that it was a fall forward (from Eden to heaven).

However, we are talking about 19th century theology? Was that any part of the the debates in the 19th century?

Glenn

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7 hours ago, Nevo said:

The Book of Mormon's take on original sin was not unheard of in the nineteenth century:

Please help me find the 19th century source for this

2 Nephi 2 [13] And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.

[22] And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.

[23] And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

[24] But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

[25] Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

Clearly the Fall of Adam was part of the Great Plan, and not just a lucky  "mishap or miss".  The Plan of Salvation would have been frustrated without the Fall.

Again, give us that 19th century source.  I have other stuff but let's just start with this.  Joseph Smith had an insight of God and His plan that only a prophet could comprehend, or a poet inspired by God.

Edited by cdowis

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11 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

What is true, Honorentheos, is that reification of all the lesson manuals and headings in the world tells us virtually nothing about the actual text -- which must remain normative and accessible to any reader with the necessary acumen to make sense of it.  We have also seen some misguided but well intentioned person adding a phrase about coinage to the Alma 11, even though the text itself says nothing about coinage.  You can read sources at that low level, if you wish, but a serious scholar will probably wonder why you haven't advanced beyond that point in your exegetical skills.  One might well wonder what your real intention here might be, since you are obviously capable of performance at a much higher level.

There is a certain rule regarding parsimony that I think esoteric theories regarding minutia in the Book of Mormon fail. That being, does it shift the gravity of the argument sufficient to overcome the questions left by the complete lack of physical support for the traditional Book of Mormon narrative or it's reasonable derivative theories? Does rejecting what the Church itself says about the story of Ether to update the origin point for the Jarodites really make the argument different? To take on your perspective, we have to have God willing to insert himself miraculously into punishing a now small group of people for building a hypothetical great tower by confounding their languages so they can't build the tower to get to heaven. It's not meeting any threshold to move the discussion away from the text itself. It's an argument built entirely on trying to create distance from what linguistics has to say about the development and dispersal of languages but not to illuminate the argument that the Book of Mormon should be taken seriously as an ancient text rather than a theory about restored Christianity developed in the 19th century US.

 

Regarding Nephite coins and monetary systems - while I think the apologists are off in trying to tackle the problem by assigning it to weights rather than the traditional approcah, I still think the use of essentially a version of the English common measuring system for dry goods isn't doing Book of Mormon apologists any favors in refuting it's 19th century origins. (Go back and read it thinking about bushels and cups, pecks and buckets.)

Edited by Honorentheos

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5 hours ago, Glenn101 said:

The question of original sin indeed did exist at the time that the Book of Mormon was composed. However, the idea that had not Adam and Eve partaken of the forbidden fruit they would have remained in their paradisiacal state forever was not even being debated. It was (and still is) the contention of all that I have read, no matter which denomination, that had they left that fruit alone, we would be a race of happy, sinless people.

Another aspect 

It is presumptive to say that with a people that were receiving revelations from God concerning the plan of salvation, none of those questions would have come up from dissidents and even believers who needed clarification.

Baptism before Christ is another part of Book or Mormon theology that was not being debated in the 19th century as far as I can ascertain. From what I can understand from my readings, baptism was generally considered the New Testament equivalent of circumcision in the Old Testament. If you have more information otherwise, please let me know. I am not an expert in 19th century theology and debates, so I could be missing something.

Glenn

I think we keep failing to connect. It's not that what Joseph wrote into the Book of Mormon is stolen from another groups' theology present in the 19th century US. It's that the theology described in the Book of Mormon didn't exist in the time it was supposedly composed. It never takes on issues of proto-Christianity engaging with Native American beliefs in what would have been the dominant parent culture around them were it truly ancient. One doesn't read the first chapters of 2 Nephi and marvel at how well Lehi represents pre-exhilic Judism with a newly evolving understanding of this Jesus introduced to him as ...Messiah before the 2nd temple I guess?

Transport a perfectly translated copy of the Book of Mormon to the times and places where the events supposedly took place and you're likely to draw blanks when looking for responses from the people of the time and place in relation to what the Book of Mormon has to say theologically.

 

In the context of the 19th century, the theology of the Book of Mormon entered the debate without need for introduction. Alexander Campbell's famous quote being exhibit A I suppose.

Edited by Honorentheos

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1 hour ago, Honorentheos said:

I think we keep failing to connect. It's not that what Joseph wrote into the Book of Mormon is stolen from another groups' theology present in the 19th century US. It's that the theology described in the Book of Mormon didn't exist in the time it was supposedly composed. It never takes on issues of proto-Christianity engaging with Native American beliefs in what would have been the dominant parent culture around them were it truly ancient.

Please tell us how you came to this conclusion.  Evidence of religious doctrines is based on written records.  Physical artifacts give us confirming information on those beliefs.

First, how many religions were being practiced in mesoamerica?

Now please tell us how many codices, written records,  are extant from BOM time period.  10,000, 1,000.... 100.... 50..... ten..... five.... less than five?  

Give us your source of knowledge of the specific beliefs and doctrines of each group of inhabitants in mesoamerica. Authentic, ancient documents which describe these beliefs -- not just artistic renditions but a description of those beliefs.
May  I assume you are aware that the Mayans were only one of such groups in mesoamerica.

You see,  personally  I think you are full of baloney, but please show us what you got.  Show us that I am wrong about you.

Edited by cdowis

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20 minutes ago, cdowis said:

Please tell us how you came to this conclusion.  Evidence of religious doctrines is based on written records.  Physical artifacts give us confirming information on those beliefs.

First, how many religions were being practiced in mesoamerica?

Now please tell us how many codices, written records,  are extant from BOM time period.  10,000, 1,000.... 100.... 50..... ten..... five.... less than five?  

Give us your source of knowledge of the specific beliefs and doctrines of each group of inhabitants in mesoamerica.  Give us the belief system for each of these religions, for each of these groups, and the specific ancient documents from which you have sourced these beliefs.
May  I assume you are aware that the Mayans were only one of such groups in mesoamerica.

You see,  personally  I think you are full of baloney, but please show us specifically what you got.

Hmmm...do you realize you just basically told me that all the evidence is in favor of my position (meaning, it's easy to demonstrate other 19th c. sources exist that include theological positions which fit the debate presented in the Book of Mormon) by challenging me to present contrasting sources to the idea the theology in the Book of Mormon belongs in an ancient context by arguing the content of the set is basically unknown?

You kinda made my point for me with that attack, cdowis. It might have sounded good at the time because trying to say I can't compare the Book of Mormon to all the potential sources known and unknown from the 1000 year period the Book of Mormon purports to cover might give the impression it can't be demonstrated it DOESN"T belong in that setting. But it isn't bolstering the argument you appear to want to make. Instead it highlights that the theory the Book of Mormon is ancient sits in a pretty lonely place among the evidence.

Full of baloney or just not particularly whelmed by the idea that the only source to support the claim the Book of Mormon theology belongs anywhere other than the 19th c. US is the Book of Mormon and those sources derived from it.

Edited by Honorentheos

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54 minutes ago, Honorentheos said:

Hmmm...do you realize you just basically told me that all the evidence is in favor of my position (meaning, it's easy to demonstrate other 19th c. sources exist that include theological positions which fit the debate presented in the Book of Mormon) by challenging me to present contrasting sources to the idea the theology in the Book of Mormon belongs in an ancient context by arguing the content of the set is basically unknown?

You are confused.  You made an assertion on what the ancient AMERINDIANS believed.  I am giving you a CFR.  Let me give your exact quote

Quote

It's that the theology described in the Book of Mormon didn't exist in the time it was supposedly composed. 

You kinda made my point for me with that attack, cdowis.

I am confused.  I basically issued you a CFR, and you respond that this was an attack?  Why don't you report my "attack" to the mods/

It might have sounded good at the time because trying to say I can't compare the Book of Mormon to all the potential sources known and unknown

Let's stop your game, and simply admit that you don't know what you are talking about.  

from the 1000 year period the Book of Mormon purports to cover might give the impression it can't be demonstrated it DOESN"T belong in that setting.

Thank you.  It was "an impression", a fragment of your imagination, with no factual basis that you can provide us.
 

Fair enough.  Thank you for sharing your personal opinion with us.  
"Nothing to see here, folks.  just move along"

 

Edited by cdowis

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cdowis,

My comment is that the theology in the Book of Mormon which we've been discussing is not represented in the time period it claims to cover. When you call for a reference in that case, there's nothing to reference. You want me to point to the earliest texts of Isaiah or Job because we know about them? To what purpose? The J/E sources in the Torah? The oldest manuscripts found at Qumran? What exactly do you think you are requesting with this CFR except to make a thin attempt to say we don't have comprehensive knowledge of all beliefs that may have been available between 600 BCE and +/- 400 CE? It's not a request to back up a claim. It's trying to expand the set of all possible theologies available in that 1000 year period to include the Book of Mormon without actually demonstrating yourself that there is supporting evidence that the Book of Mormon is not alone in the periods it is claimed to represent when it comes to it's internal theological concepts.

My argument is that, placed in the 19th century, it finds meaningful positions available on which it demonstrates further developments or ideas that are associated with a more mature, developed Christianity. You want a representative example of this? Ok, that would be a valid call for reference. And here's one for you.

Up thread, Glenn asked about baptism and how this may play into the discussion. You may be familiar with the broader restorationist movement taking place at the same time as the Book of Mormon originated. The description of baptism as it occurs in Mosiah is very much consistent with the debate over baptism that was underway between restorationists, Baptists and more traditional Protestants. The debates had many facets but near the center were questions of how essential was baptism to salvation? Was baptism a sacrament and infant baptism correct? Or was Baptismal Regeneration (the general belief that baptism was a necessary sign of one's faith) critical as espoused by the Stone-Campbell Movement from whom Sidney Rigdon would come to Mormonism? Was spiritual regeneration (the born again experience as we might call it today) what was essential and Baptism as a profession of one's commitment and faith an important symbol but not actually a required sacrament? Should baptism be seen as an act that preceded one's confession of faith or was baptism by immersion as a sign of one's faith (meaning, it must come after one's profession of faith so infant baptism was simply not possible as effective) the only correct way?

To demonstrate that this debate was alive and well in the 19th century - in fact, almost central to the religious tension surrounding the composition of the Book of Mormon - I would offer up a few links to back up the claim. Since the Stone-Campbell Movement preceded the Book of Mormon, but just barely, it makes for a good contrasting position to show that when the Book of Mormon staked out a position regarding baptism in many places, it was entering into a debate very much part of the fabric of the 19th century.

There is the example of the  aforementioned Alexander Campbell and John Thomas: https://historyengine.richmond.edu/episodes/view/3660

Additional source on Campbell's views and how they developed out of the Baptist tradition: http://councilonchristianunity.org/baptism-an-issue-among-disciples/

You could look up any number of sources on the debates between the Baptists and they origins, what led to the various fracturing and reforming of various groups. Baptism was one of many issues strongly debated and involved in the religious churn of the time.

But what about Baptism for adults in the time of Alma? Other than the Book of Mormon, where does the example and associated theology of the Book of Mormon find support?

I sincerely don't believe your choice of challenges demonstrates you completely grasp the opposing view's position.

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13 hours ago, James Tunney said:

I don't think you know my history so I don't think you can justify your last statement about prior prejudice, etc. I grew up mormon, went on a mission, read extensively. I was a believer. There was no prior prejudice, just a nagging feeling that there was more to the story. The church's unreasonable fear of the true past led me to think and feel this way. If the church had the truth then why hide the history? The truth should set it free and win every time without the need for apologetics or public relations.

Nevertheless reading and study led me to the conclusion that the church isn't what it claims to be. Frankly reading works by the so called mormon apologists reinforced my non-belief. The apologists don't have good answers and I got tired having to do somersaults in order to justify belief.

I don't expect you to agree with this as the possibility of having rational non-believers must really scare the apologists and hierarchy.

I couldn't care less from which side of the debate someone comes, pro or con.  In your contempt for so-called "apologists" you show a level of intemperacy and ignorance which is invulnerable to factual discussion.  When I speak of your apriorism, I am not speaking to your personal history (sad as it might be), but of your present dismissal of anything without even substantive discussion.  That is key to your prejudice.  Having made heavy emotional decisions already, you are not about to go back and reconsider anything now -- even if justified -- and that is the nature of your overwhelming prejudice.

For a genial and rational anti-Mormon, on the other hand, substantive discussion is fairly straightforward.  I think of Rob Bowman in that category.  He is not about to accept the LDS faith, and strongly militates against it.  Yet he is not disposed to reject factual analysis out of hand, and has no fear of wading into the heart of enemy territory.  You might take a lesson from him.

Thus, your depiction of the LDS Church and of the benighted "apologists" and their work is a sad mischaracterization of reality designed to give yourself emotional solace.  However, there is nothing rational about it.

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6 hours ago, Honorentheos said:

There is a certain rule regarding parsimony that I think esoteric theories regarding minutia in the Book of Mormon fail. That being, does it shift the gravity of the argument sufficient to overcome the questions left by the complete lack of physical support for the traditional Book of Mormon narrative or it's reasonable derivative theories? Does rejecting what the Church itself says about the story of Ether to update the origin point for the Jarodites really make the argument different? To take on your perspective, we have to have God willing to insert himself miraculously into punishing a now small group of people for building a hypothetical great tower by confounding their languages so they can't build the tower to get to heaven. It's not meeting any threshold to move the discussion away from the text itself. It's an argument built entirely on trying to create distance from what linguistics has to say about the development and dispersal of languages but not to illuminate the argument that the Book of Mormon should be taken seriously as an ancient text rather than a theory about restored Christianity developed in the 19th century US.

Regarding Nephite coins and monetary systems - while I think the apologists are off in trying to tackle the problem by assigning it to weights rather than the traditional approcah, I still think the use of essentially a version of the English common measuring system for dry goods isn't doing Book of Mormon apologists any favors in refuting it's 19th century origins. (Go back and read it thinking about bushels and cups, pecks and buckets.)

Do you really fear reading the text itself to the extent that you will continue this tortuous justification for dealing in mythmaking by local yokels?  There are certainly intelligent analysts who attribute virtually everything in the BofM to 19th century sources, but who are not prepared to compare their answers with those who posit ancient sources.  And that is the crucial comparison, as I have pointed out in brief in my “The Preposterous Book of Mormon: A Singular Advantage,” lecture, August 8, 2014, at the annual FAIRMORMON Conference, Provo, Utah, online at http://www.fairmormon.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/PREPOSTEROUS-BOOK-OF-MORMON.pdf .

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8 hours ago, Honorentheos said:

Transport a perfectly translated copy of the Book of Mormon to the times and places where the events supposedly took place and you're likely to draw blanks when looking for responses from the people of the time and place in relation to what the Book of Mormon has to say theologically.

Just curious. Is there any place where the Book of Mormon would have fit theologically in 421 AD?

Did the Thomas Christians in India debate infant baptism? Nestorians? Church of the East?

I'd just like to get beyond Mesoamerica for a moment and understand what other Judeo-Christian traditions that ran parallel to the Nephites were doing/thinking.

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On 8/22/2016 at 11:12 PM, Robert F. Smith said:

What is clear is that you and Honorentheos are confused about the "Tower of Babel," a term we get from the post-Lehi biblical period, when the Jews were exiled in Babylon.  Use of the term "Babel" is a dead giveaway that the reader doesn't know the actual history of Mesopotamia, and has substituted assumption for fact.  Of course there was a Great Tower, but it was not at Babel, which is a late insertion (glosse) in the biblical text -- put in during the Babylonian Exile of the Jews.  Because the Jaredite text is authentically ancient, it leaves out the term "Babel," something Joseph Smith would not have thought about at all.  Thus, the very ancient tradition of a Great Tower and the Confusion of Tongues must be placed much earlier.  And, voila, we actually have a very archaic Sumerian confusion of tongues story, along with many temple towers (ziggurats) built in ancient Mesopotamia.  All of this has become clear only since the time of Joseph Smith.

Hating so-called "apologists" will not make such ignorant assumptions go away, but becoming better informed might help.

This relates to something I've considered as an "evidence" for the Book of Mormon as an ancient text. Nowhere in the book do we find a glosse accounting for something we might find on a 19th century map of the New World. In particular, there are no references to continents like we get from Moroni during his visit to Joseph. Almost as if the author(s) had no clue what their world looked like from a bird's eye view.

The text doesn't offer a geography beyond what we might expect from two groups of exiled Jews venturing into the isles of the sea around 600 BC.

You'd expect a 19th-century author to work from a detailed map of New York or Mexico. But what we see in the Book of Mormon is what we see in other Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman texts from the 4th-5th centuries (eg. History of the Rechabites and the Alexander Romance)...groups traveling east towards the blessed isles of the sea.

Edited by Rajah Manchou

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