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enummaelish

The Smith Family vs. the Lehi Family

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Does this sound like the impetus for Laman and Lemuel?

Patriarchal Blessing administered to Hyrum by Joseph Smith Sr.:

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The real challenge is whether the Book of Mormon fits an ancient model or an early 19th Century naturalistic model better. The question of Joseph Smith, Sr.'s dreams as a source for Lehi's dreams is plausible to the extent that similar dreams may be considered abnormal in 600 BC. If such dreams fit with a 600 BC model, then the possibility of an ancient origin cannot be lightly discarded. Do they? Similarly, does the family model projected by Lehi and Co. reflect an ancient origin? If so, then we must give serious consideration to the possibility of an ancient origin.

As an aside, I have always been of the leaning that Nephi's sisters came along later, possibly in the wilderness and beyond. When Nephi and his brothers returned to Jerusalem for Ishmael's family, they apparently acquired Ishmael and his wife, Ishmael's five daughters, and Ishmael's two sons and their families (1 Nephi 7:6; enough daughters for Lehi's 4 sons plus Zoram, but Ishmael's sons already had their own families. No sons left for Lehi's daughters, unless the daughters came later and perhaps married Ishmael's grandsons). In addition, the sequence in 2 Nephi 5:6 seems to place the sisters as younger in the only mention, of which I am aware, of Nephi's sisters in the Book of Mormon:

Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me. And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they did hearken unto my words.

I have some difficulty reconciling this structure to the Smith family (is Zoram representing Oliver Cowdery? Who do Ishmael and his crew represent?), unless it is a very loose comparison.

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I would suggest however, that based upon the brief snippets we

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Umm... I believe he has. That's why he's quoting from them. Might wanna check over his posts again, perhaps? Just maybe?

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Umm... I believe he has. That's why he's quoting from them. Might wanna check over his posts again, perhaps? Just maybe?

Umm...

I should admit that I

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Hi David,

I'm not missing in action! :P But I am scurrying around finalizing preparations for a business excursion to the longhorn state. In any event, when I return I'll try to find some playtime to address whether, as you suggest, my scholarship lacks critical rigor (I also have a few more insights to add on 2 Ne. 1:14). Thanks for your patience.

Nevo offers sound advice: if you want to better understand Dan's arguments, read his book.

Put succinctly, the BoMor is a disputed text. Inclusion or exclusion of Joseph Smith as the BoMor author is a prerequisite to any justified theory of translation. Echoes of events from Smith's life in the BoMor narrative would tend to include rather than exclude Smith. As I previously observed on ZLMB:

  • [exegete:] Other BoMor characters and events mimic Smith's early-19th-century Zeitgeist. "Mormon," for instance, has six letters, just like "Joseph." (I'm kidding!) Fawn Brodie noted a few similarities between Mormon and Smith, but not all (F. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, 2nd ed. [New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1971], 416). Mormon and Smith's lives intersect at several crucial junctures:
    • Mormon was named after his father Mormon (Morm. 1:5) as Joseph Smith was named after his father Joseph Smith.

  • Ammaron, the record guardian, "hid up the records unto the Lord" (Morm. 1:2) as Moroni "hid up unto the Lord" plates that were initially in Ammaron's charge (BoMor Title Page).

  • Ammaron visits Mormon at the age of ten and instructs him that he will eventually acquire the plates (Morm. 1:2); Moroni visits Joseph at age 17 and informs Smith that he will eventually receive Mormon's plates.

  • Mormon begins inscribing the plates at age 24; Smith translates the bulk of the BoMor at age 23.

  • At age 11 Mormon was relocated to Zarahemla (Morm. 1:6) as Joseph (age 10 or so) was moved from Vermont to New York.

  • Mormon is "visited of the Lord" at age 15 (Morm. 1:15); at around the same age Joseph Smith is visited by the Lord.

  • In their youth both Mormon and Joseph were "large in stature" (Morm. 2:1).

  • Between Mormon's theophany and his acquisition of Ammaron's plates Mormon says that "Gadianton robbers ... infest[ed] the land" (Morm. 1:18a), "treasures in the earth ... [had become] slippery" (Morm. 1:18b), and "sorceries, and witchcrafts, and magics" were rife (Morm. 1:19); after Joseph's theophany, yet prior to acquiring Mormon's plates, Masons were thought to conspire in secret combinations, Smith failed at money-digging because of slippery treasures, and village scryers challenged Smith with their magical prowess.

(I could go on, but this should do.) In my considered opinion, such BoMor narrative elements are best understood as autobiographical echoes of Joseph Smith.

These parallels are all the more compelling given that the only evidence we have for Mormon's existence is a tale that Joseph Smith imparted to the world.

Until I return ...

Best wishes,

Brent

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

(

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How are all of these parallels significant?

How many sons are named after their fathers? (I thought the parallel was between Nephi and Joseph, not Mormon and Joseph).

What does "Ammaron, the record guardian, "hid up the records unto the Lord" (Morm. 1:2) as Moroni "hid up unto the Lord" plates that were initially in Ammaron's charge (BoMor Title Page)" have to do with a parallel with Joseph?

Both of these events ("Ammaron visits Mormon at the age of ten and instructs him that he will eventually acquire the plates (Morm. 1:2); Moroni visits Joseph at age 17 and informs Smith that he will eventually receive Mormon's plates" and "Mormon is "visited of the Lord" at age 15 (Morm. 1:15); at around the same age Joseph Smith is visited by the Lord") are ones that you are claiming are fabricated, what's the revelance of parallels with Smith's life then?

How many kids during that time period moved when they were 11, give or take a year or two? Have there been other time periods that this has happened? Happened to both of my kids. If so, this is not unique to 19th century so how is the parallel significant?

"large of stature"--half of my son's friends qualified for this. Not a very uncommon occurence in my opinion. Why consider it a significant parallel if so?

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Nevo offers sound advice: if you want to better understand Dan's arguments, read his book.

I admit, good counsel; I am only qualified at this point to express my opinion on the brief insights Dan has kindly shared on the board. As I stated in a previous thread, I tried to purchase the book at my local LDS bookseller but was unable, since they don

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In addition to the parallel between Joseph and Mormon as military leaders, we could also note that both men were forced by their respective enemies to abandon their homes and move with a small band of believers from city to city (Mormon 2:4-6; 4:19-20; 5:6-7).

Also, in the case of Joseph and Mormon, please recall that their enemies finally succeeded in killing both men (Mormon 8:3; D&C 135:4).

Of course each of these three parallels are forged after the publication of the Book of Mormon. Hence, I see nothing but divine intervention in the fact that the life of the editor served as a type for that of the translator.

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Hi Cal,

It's great to hear from you again.

I'm running out the door, but let me offer a few comments. As with any list of parallels, significance lies in the aggregate (e.g., do any of your sons fit all of the parallels?). Parallels between Joseph Smith and Mormon encompass virtually everything we know about Mormon's early life.

Your sons may well be "large in stature," but how many of your sons also share this curious worldview?


    • Between Mormon's theophany and his acquisition of Ammaron's plates Mormon says that "Gadianton robbers ... infest[ed] the land" (Morm. 1:18a), "treasures in the earth ... [had become] slippery" (Morm. 1:18b), and "sorceries, and witchcrafts, and magics" were rife (Morm. 1:19); after Joseph's theophany, yet prior to acquiring Mormon's plates, Masons were thought to conspire in secret combinations, Smith failed at money-digging because of slippery treasures, and village scryers challenged Smith with their magical prowess.

Yes, many sons are relocated from one place to another in their youth, but how many are relocated just a few years before they are "visited of the Lord"? (Were any of your sons?)

Yes, many sons are named after their fathers. But note that Mormon's initial explanation for having his name doesn't involve his father at all:

  • And behold, I am called Mormon, being called after the land of Mormon, the land in which Alma did establish the church among the people, yea, the first church which was established among them after their transgression.
    [3 Ne. 5:12, emphasis added]

Mormon doesn't disclose his father's name until he gives his biographical sketch (Morm. 1:5), in the context of other details paralleling Joseph Smith's life.

Whether or not Smith's visions were "real" is irrelevant since my list of parallels need only involve what Smith was claiming, not what he actually experienced.

One quick final thought. Hiding records "unto the Lord" is one of the most significant parallels.


    • Ammaron, the record guardian, "hid up the records unto the Lord" (Morm. 1:2) as Moroni "hid up unto the Lord" plates that were initially in Ammaron's charge (BoMor Title Page).

In Smith's theologizing the treasure trove, to say something was hid "unto the Lord" is another way of saying that said treasure was immune from the divine curse that prevented the retrieval of buried goods:

  • And it shall come to pass, saith the Lord of Hosts, yea, our great and true God, that whoso shall hide up treasures in the earth shall find them again no more, because of the great curse of the land, save he be a righteous man and shall hide it up unto the Lord.

For I will, saith the Lord, that they shall hide up their treasures unto me; and cursed be they who hide not up their treasures unto me; for none hideth up their treasures unto me save it be the righteous; and he that hideth not up his treasures unto me, cursed is he, and also the treasure, and none shall redeem it because of the curse of the land

[Hel. 13:18

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Hello Brent,

But more importantly, your appeal to God's intervention in the lives of Mormon and Joseph as a source for the parallels strikes me as a precarious leap of faith given that the only evidence for Mormon's existence is a tale stemming from Smith (to say nothing of the fact that God's other prophets don't share all of these similarities).

Of course my perspective requires faith. I do not deny that requisite. However, such patterns in many ways actually typify the Lord

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As I stated in a previous thread, I tried to purchase the book at my local LDS bookseller but was unable, since they don

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Hi David,

I genuinely appreciate your amiable response.

There are interesting parallels between Moses and Brigham Young. I'm afraid, however, I'm not communicating effectively. Put differently, my approach to the Moses/Brigham parallels would fundamentally change if the similarities encompassed most of what we knew about Moses, and if the only evidence we had for Moses' existence derived solely from a tale told by Brigham Young.

I'm off to the airport.

Kind regards,

Brent

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

(

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my approach to the Moses/Brigham parallels would fundamentally change if the similarities encompassed most of what we knew about Moses, and if the only evidence we had for Moses' existence derived solely from a tale told by Brigham Young.

This is a very good point. If all we knew about Moses were a story told by Brigham Young, everyone would assume that Brigham simply made it up. :P

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This has been a interesting discussion thus far, and I value everyone's contribution.

One would expect that an historian or novelist would introduce enough generalizable parallels into her work so as to enable the reader to relate and thereby become immersed in the material. (This, I believe is Cal's point)

On may also expect that the Novelist may interject significant parallels into the characters and story lines reflective of her own unique life experiences. (This, I believe, is Brent's point)

However, when determining whether a work is historical or novel, translated or contrived, the presence of significant parallels between the characters and story line and the person conveying the story, which continue long after the story has been published (David's point), presents, I believe, some fascinating implications.

I think that in addition to general and significant parallels, there are nuances within a given work which, in the case of novelist (including historical novelists), give us a much greater insight into the life and personalities of the author than typically is possible through a history.

For example, as I have read many of ****ens' book, I have felt as though I have been inadvertantly permitted to peer into Charle's very mind and personality. In a way, I had come to "know" him prior to reading his personal history. In fact, the personal history merely confirmed much of what I had already suspected, and didn't go as far to explain certain things about the author that the novels, themselves, had revealed. And, the same has been true for me when reading Austen, Tolkien, Lewis, Rowling, Tolstoy, etc.

Reading non-autobiographical histories is quite a different matter. I don't feel as though I got to know Halberstram, Shirer, Durant, Churchill, Givens, Bitton, and other historians as well as I did the novelists.

Sure, there are things that can be surmised about historians in the slice of history they chose to explore, and the way in which they chose to explore it. But, it is not quite the same thing.

I am not really sure what all the difference is apart from the distinctive qualities of the respective genre.

Can you guess where I would place the BofM on this basis (novel or history)? How much do you suppose one could learn about Joseph Smith from the BofM prior to reading Joseph's personal history?

Something to think about.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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my approach to the Moses/Brigham parallels would fundamentally change if the similarities encompassed most of what we knew about Moses, and if the only evidence we had for Moses' existence derived solely from a tale told by Brigham Young.

This is a very good point. If all we knew about Moses were a story told by Brigham Young, everyone would assume that Brigham simply made it up. :P

I am still trying to figure out what is supposedly "precarious" about making such leaps of faith. I seem to have landed on solid and uplifting ground after so doing.

The only evidence we currently have of Brent flying out soon to the Lone Star state, is what he has told us. Would it be "precarious" to take that leap of faith in believing that is where he is headed?

It wouldn't take much to forge a ticket, and to dupe some gullible witnesses.

Seems we have the makings of a naturalistic theory. ;-)

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Strong patterns that connect the lives of important figures are not just an LDS phenomenon. The following scriptures provide direct ways in which Elijah served as a prophet like unto Moses.

Moses Elijah

Ex. 2:15 I Kings 17: 1-3

Ex. 2:21 I Kings 17:8-24

Ex. 3:11 I Kings 18:1

Ex. 19:3 I Kings 18: 7-8

Ex. 16:8,12 I Kings 17: 6

Num. 11: 7-9 I Kings 17:12-16

Num. 11:11-12 I Kings 17: 19-21

Ex. 24:2 I Kings 18:36

Ex. 24:4 I Kings 18:31

Ex. 32:12-13 I Kings 18: 36-37

Ex. 32: 25-28 I Kings 18:39-40

Ex. 24:9-11 I Kings 18:41

Ex. 33:12-23 I Kings 19: 4

Deut. 34: 1-6 2 Kings 2:2

Ex. 14:21 2 Kings 2:8

Elijah in turns appears as an exact reversal of the prophet Jonah or-- perhaps better stated-- Jonah serves as an anti-Elijah figure in the Hebrew Bible:

Jonah descended from God

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I would suggest that as we examine the possiblities of parallels that they are often interesting but insignificant. Joseph Campbell famously recast Lord Raglan's "hero" into a literary model that is supposed to inform a large number of myths. Francis Lee Uttley applied that hero model to the life of Abraham Lincoln and found a 22 out of 22 point correspondence.

That would suggest that Abraham Lincoln is mytholgical. Except he wasn't. There are other reasons that the parallels may appear, including coincidence. See Alan Dundes,

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Hello John,

As an aside, I have always been of the leaning that Nephi's sisters came along later, possibly in the wilderness and beyond. When Nephi and his brothers returned to Jerusalem for Ishmael's family, they apparently acquired Ishmael and his wife, Ishmael's five daughters, and Ishmael's two sons and their families (1 Nephi 7:6; enough daughters for Lehi's 4 sons plus Zoram, but Ishmael's sons already had their own families. No sons left for Lehi's daughters, unless the daughters came later and perhaps married Ishmael's grandsons). In addition, the sequence in 2 Nephi 5:6 seems to place the sisters as younger in the only mention, of which I am aware, of Nephi's sisters in the Book of Mormon:

You present an interesting question, which again reflects a connection between the Book of Mormon and the Hebrew Bible. Concerning Lehi

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Assuming that Nephi's sisters married into Ishmael's family does not require them to be younger than Nephi. Since they are not mentioned in the early part, but only after Ishmael's family joins up with Lehi, they might have been all ready married and connected/living with Ishmael's family instead of Lehi's.

I think it likely if so that it would have been mentioned (as in "why not go get Ishmael's clan since we don't really want to leave our daughters behind"). Since there isn't any reference one way or the other as far as I can recall, while unlikely I don't think it can be ruled completely out.

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I would suggest that as we examine the possiblities of parallels that they are often interesting but insignificant. Joseph Campbell famously recast Lord Raglan's "hero" into a literary model that is supposed to inform a large number of myths. Francis Lee Uttley applied that hero model to the life of Abraham Lincoln and found a 22 out of 22 point correspondence.

That would suggest that Abraham Lincoln is mytholgical. Except he wasn't. There are other reasons that the parallels may appear, including coincidence. See Alan Dundes,

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The connections between Elijah and Moses run beyond thematic parallels. They include repetition of words and phrases which seem to intentionally depict Elijah as a partial fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:15:

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The connections between Elijah and Moses run beyond thematic parallels.

To someone like me who believes the Bible to be only very loosely based on actual events, all these parallels do is confirm that conclusion. In my mind, we very clearly have one story attempting to mimic another. Is it easier to believe that (A) God would somehow meddle in the minute details of Elijah's life so as to establish such a pattern, or (B) one or more authors altered the facts or simply made up stuff to establish such a pattern? To me, personally, option B is the much more plausible answer--by far. These sorts of parallels only makes sense to me when these Biblical accounts are treated as allegory. They certainly read that way to me.

More to the point of your initial post, however. I don't believe I have the onus of responsibility of having to predict exactly what Joseph Smith was thinking or from where he got his material in order to be able to conclude that the BofM was not really translated from an authentic ancient document any more than I have to be able to know intimately how David Copperfield seemed to make the Empire State Building disappear to conclude that it wasn't really gone.

I really, really enjoyed the Vogel book (and Dan is my hero! ha ha), but I thought too much effort was expended trying to explain what Joseph Smith might have been thinking and to establish parallels to specific events in his life that might have served as inspiration when dictating the BofM. I suppose a general "feasibility study" is important to establish that he had the necessary resources to do so, but to me personally, it's not at all intellectually dishonest to scratch my head at some of the content of the BofM and say "wow, how could he have made that up?" while at the same time concluding that he did so without the help of deity. I do the same thing with tons of other things that I don't believe were the works of God (Macchu Picchu, the Pyramids, the Easter Island monuments, Beethoven's 9th Symphony, the works of Michaelangelo, the hundreds of Virgin Mary sightings each year) as do most TBMs, so why must I do so with the BofM?

--KY

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