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Where did the Book of Mormon come from?

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After all is said and done..and I have tried to study more as well as prayer and listening....I just don't know....and yet,  with a deligence...I cannot get that spirit back.  Reading the Book of Mormon again right now. The thing is...it is the latest Presidents and Apostles that have given me more questions that Joseph ever could.

Edited by Jeanne
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55 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Where did the Book of Mormon come from.  I constantly hear this idea argued from both apologetic and critical sides.  All in an attempt to explain how Joseph could have produced the Book of Mormon.  Yet, when it comes right down to it, both sides should be able to agree on some pretty basic historical facts from the evidence.  

  • Joseph Smith dictated the content of the BoM to some scribes

Nearly everyone should be able to agree on that statement, and I think that really explains it in a nutshell.  I was thinking about other figures in history that are revered for things they produced.  Newton, Einstein, Beethoven, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, etc.  Do anyone else spend so much time asking where they came up with their masterpiece works?  Where did Einstein get that amazing theory of relativity?  Where did Michelangelo get that amazing statue of David.  How could they have possibly produced these things?  Where did they come from?  

I think we spend so much time looking for evidence, trying to find parallels, seeking to understand where the BoM came from, that we are missing the answer right in front of our faces and we should all be able to agree on.  The BoM came from Joseph Smith.  This is the clear and straightforward answer that both believers and nonbelievers should be able to agree on, and its the simple answer to a highly debated question.  

Yes, and I believe he had many years prior to have come up with it before relaying it to others. I believe when he had the blanket up he may have been using some texts, and when he wasn't and looking into a hat, he was going off his memory. Which neither really discount the awesomeness that he was able to do this, and come up with scripture for the BoM. But as most already know,  it was at one time not in scripture form but a chapter book. I bought one a few years back, it's a copy of the 1830 BofM, pretty neat. 

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Test.

Edit: Sorry, I am apparently unable to post a reply in another thread so I wanted to see if I still can elsewhere.  It is weird I write the post and hit submit but nothing shows up.  I have tried on different browsers and different divices...nothing!  

Sorry for the rant, continue on as normal...

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The way I see it the Book of Mormon, The Book of Abraham, the D&C and the Inspired Version of the Bible all have the same author. Some people see that as Joseph Smith and others see it as god. 

 

Phaedrus 

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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

Everyone agrees that the book came from Joseph but not everyone agrees it's origin is with Joseph. They're two similar notions but with pretty profound differences religiously.

But why don't people ask the same questions about works by other historical figures.  Like the ones I listed, great scientific minds and great artists.  Why hold the BoM to a different standard by seeking to explain how Joseph could have produced it.  We know he did produce it, so why question how to these lengths that Mormons do and not do the same thing with other works produced by other figures in history?  

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2 hours ago, Jeanne said:

After all is said and done..and I have tried to study more as well as prayer and listening....I just don't know....and yet,  with a deligence...I cannot get that spirit back.  Reading the Book of Mormon again right now. The thing is...it is the latest Presidents and Apostles that have given me more questions that Joseph ever could.

Perhaps you got some good out of the BoM during a certain stage of your life, but now you're getting good from other books.  I find that perfectly fine.  The notion that you have to continue to learn from the BoM or any book for that matter, throughout all stages of your life, seems a misplaced and unnecessary notion.  Seek wisdom wherever you feel inspired to find it.  

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1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Calm and methodical basic research has taught us a lot about the BofM, and one does not have to be a believer in order to do that research.  And you are correct to say that "Joseph Smith dictated the content of the BoM to some scribes."  However, much of the rest is not so "clear and straightforward."  True, one can do minute textual studies, and analyze the genre and structure of every part of the English text -- just the way it is done to the Bible.  Yet, at the end of the day, basic research has left many of us baffled.

Why, for example, is the text in Early Modern English, a language unknown to Joseph Smith?  Joseph may have dictated it to his scribes, but someone else translated it centuries before Joseph.  How's that for a riddle?  So, where did the BofM ultimately come from?  Any good ideas?

I kind of wonder if people aren't creating unnecessary riddles like the one you mentioned on the EModE studies.  I question whether there is actually anything productive we can learn from a study like that.  Its a book in the style that Joseph dictated it, and whether or not it sounds like 17th or 19th century English doesn't seem to be that pertinent when it comes to the messages found in the book.  

It strikes me that these kinds of studies are like studying the smile in the Mona Lisa.  The nuances keep getting deeper and deeper, yet I'm not sure its all that interesting.  Humans are pretty good at imagining meaning from all kinds of meaningless and ordinary things.  We are good at seeing patterns in noise, but I think this gets fairly useless for society.  

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9 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

But why don't people ask the same questions about works by other historical figures. 

We do.  It is always important to distinguish historical figures as either being a translator or an author.  William Tinsdale for example.

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1 hour ago, Tacenda said:

Yes, and I believe he had many years prior to have come up with it before relaying it to others. I believe when he had the blanket up he may have been using some texts, and when he wasn't and looking into a hat, he was going off his memory. Which neither really discount the awesomeness that he was able to do this, and come up with scripture for the BoM. But as most already know,  it was at one time not in scripture form but a chapter book. I bought one a few years back, it's a copy of the 1830 BofM, pretty neat. 

I tend to think he had a very excellent memory and ability to infuse the kinds of biblical language that was a very prominent part of his environment, into the text.  I also agree that with certain sections of the BoM, like the Isaiah chapters and the sermon on the mount in 3 Nephi, that he likely was using the KJV directly to produce those sections, but I think for the rest of the BoM it was a more intuitive creation that melded religious language he was familiar with in the 19th century with KJV language in a potpourri of sorts.  

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1 hour ago, CA Steve said:

As Mormon's we are big on authority claims. We claim that what we are doing through the priesthood is binding beyond this life, We claim that President Nelson is authorized to speak for God here on earth. We claim that we are the only ones who have the authority to baptize people into God's church even if those people are already dead. We claim the authority to seal families together forever.

I am perfectly fine with those who want to approach the Book of Mormon as a pseudepigrapical text  but I think that approach impacts those claims of authority to act in God's name. 

 

Additionally I don't think the impact of scriptural historicity on LDS claims to authority is limited to the Book of Mormon & PofGP, though that is most often discussed. I think that the historicity of the Pentateuch has as much of or a greater impact on those claims. If the stories we know from the Bible about the Biblical patriarchs  are not at least mostly true, it undermines the whole foundation, in my mind. If Abraham was a myth that pretty much does away with the whole authority claim for us, does it not?

 

So yes I believe that historical accuracy for Mormonism is very important.

The claims you mention evolve over time and are different based on different leaders, so I'm not worried about aligning to any particular leader's opinion about truth claims.

As for scriptural historicity, it seems important to a more orthodox view, but as I've learned more about critical biblical studies, I recognize the difficulty in attributing historicity to the majority of the text that religions have used.  So that's what has turned me to seeking metaphorical meaning from the texts.  Scriptural literalism seems very limited and rigid from my current vantage point.  

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34 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The problem with that scenario is that Joseph had neither the education nor the opportunity to have come up with all that before he began dictating.  It would be relatively easy to show such a phony creation to be full of holes.  Yet, he couldn't possibly have come up with an Early Modern English text.  Someone else had to have done that centuries earlier.  Who might that have been?   In addition, the witnesses to the "translation" state that the only blanket ever used  was to shield Joseph and his scribes from people dropping by the house to say Hello.  Between Joseph and his scribes, and the other members of the household (Emma, Elizabeth Ann Whitmer, and the other scribes), there was no blanket or other barrier.  All could see Joseph with his head in that large hat, dictating phrases to his scribes.  Memory simply couldn't account for his rapid and continuous dictation.  Even the best fiction writers have to go back and correct and edit.  Joseph never did.

I would say most critics of the BoM think it is full of holes.  EModE hasn't moved any needles in the critical scholarship from what I've read.  The idea that Joseph couldn't have done it, yet he did do it, doesn't make sense to me.  Joseph dictated it, he did it, we have no evidence that is credible to suggest otherwise.  Trying to find complexities and then say Joseph couldn't possibly have created it because he wasn't smart enough, just don't make sense to me.  

Robert, many other writers have produced texts of similar complexity without training.  I'm wondering if you've read through Richard Van Wagoner's Natural Born Seer and the appendix section that compares the BoM to other texts of similar complexity that have been produced through dictation or automatic writing or other similar methods.  Its quite interesting.  Also, I liked Ann Taves Revelatory Events and the A Course in Miracles creation which had some interesting parallels.  I don't find these arguments that others haven't done what Joseph did credible, because they have and there are examples to compare.  

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34 minutes ago, phaedrus ut said:

The way I see it the Book of Mormon, The Book of Abraham, the D&C and the Inspired Version of the Bible all have the same author. Some people see that as Joseph Smith and others see it as god. 

 

Phaedrus 

Then God is highly inconsistent and contradictory.  

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2 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

Where did the Book of Mormon come from.  I constantly hear this idea argued from both apologetic and critical sides.  All in an attempt to explain how Joseph could have produced the Book of Mormon.  Yet, when it comes right down to it, both sides should be able to agree on some pretty basic historical facts from the evidence.  

  • Joseph Smith dictated the content of the BoM to some scribes

Nearly everyone should be able to agree on that statement, and I think that really explains it in a nutshell.  I was thinking about other figures in history that are revered for things they produced.  Newton, Einstein, Beethoven, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, etc.  Do anyone else spend so much time asking where they came up with their masterpiece works?  Where did Einstein get that amazing theory of relativity?  Where did Michelangelo get that amazing statue of David.  How could they have possibly produced these things?  Where did they come from?  

I think we spend so much time looking for evidence, trying to find parallels, seeking to understand where the BoM came from, that we are missing the answer right in front of our faces and we should all be able to agree on.  The BoM came from Joseph Smith.  This is the clear and straightforward answer that both believers and nonbelievers should be able to agree on, and its the simple answer to a highly debated question.  

At least with the Book of Mormon, we have a eyewitness accounts of how it was done. Sometimes from the plates, later via "Seer Stone", and the way he could dictate so much of scripture and seldom need to do it again. With the Prophets of the Old Testament, it was sometimes voices, sometimes feelings, and other means. But almost always, with no witnesses, not written words, as almost all they that was given early on came down through "oral tradition", scrolls and other texts came later, written by others who received the words passed down through generations. Few who make accusations that seek to undermine or cast doubt, do so with rocks thrown from glass houses. 

I once he someone (well many someone's) comment, that "it sure is convenient that the so called plates were taken back leaving no evidence". My reply has always been, "there is NOTHING convenient about it"! But, it would not matter as Hugh Nibley pointed out, no one would believe it anyway, unless they could figure out how to translate them, and then it would be like the Bible, with 8,000+ versions of the Book of Mormon. Also, probably that many different sects as well.    

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15 minutes ago, pogi said:

We do.  It is always important to distinguish historical figures as either being a translator or an author.  William Tinsdale for example.

Can you explain an example of how people are wondering about the works produced by others in the same way as they are questioning the BoM production?   Coincidentally I happen to be reading a book about the coming forth of the English Bible right now (Wide as the Waters by Benson Bobrick,) and just recently completed the section about William Tyndale.  I'm not familiar with any arguments questioning how Tyndale was able to produce a translation of the bible.  

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45 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The problem with that scenario is that Joseph had neither the education nor the opportunity to have come up with all that before he began dictating.  It would be relatively easy to show such a phony creation to be full of holes.  Yet, he couldn't possibly have come up with an Early Modern English text.  Someone else had to have done that centuries earlier.  Who might that have been?   In addition, the witnesses to the "translation" state that the only blanket ever used  was to shield Joseph and his scribes from people dropping by the house to say Hello.  Between Joseph and his scribes, and the other members of the household (Emma, Elizabeth Ann Whitmer, and the other scribes), there was no blanket or other barrier.  All could see Joseph with his head in that large hat, dictating phrases to his scribes.  Memory simply couldn't account for his rapid and continuous dictation.  Even the best fiction writers have to go back and correct and edit.  Joseph never did.

https://www.lds.org/ensign/2015/10/joseph-the-seer?lang=eng In this link you will see a picture at the bottom that shows the blanket between the scribe and he. Also, Joseph had years that he could come up with a lot of the Book of Mormon.

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12 minutes ago, Bill "Papa" Lee said:

At least with the Book of Mormon, we have a eyewitness accounts of how it was done. Sometimes from the plates, later via "Seer Stone", and the way he could dictate so much of scripture and seldom need to do it again. With the Prophets of the Old Testament, it was sometimes voices, sometimes feelings, and other means. But almost always, with no witnesses, not written words, as almost all they that was given early on came down through "oral tradition", scrolls and other texts came later, written by others who received the words passed down through generations. Few who make accusations that seek to undermine or cast doubt, do so with rocks thrown from glass houses. 

I honestly don't think the witnesses tell us much about the actual process.  Some speculate that he saw actual words on a stone, others don't.  The only really solid reliable thing we know is that the dictation came from Joseph.  I don't see any reason to conclude from the witness statements that feelings, voices, and "other means" weren't part of that process in Joseph's mind.  Oral tradition, other texts, these too could easily have been involved.    

The doubt that should be cast it seems is on the traditional narrative that more open and honest history has refuted.  The means of translation were through the use of seer stone in a hat and open plates were not used as part of the dictation.  

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2 hours ago, CA Steve said:

As Mormon's we are big on authority claims. We claim that what we are doing through the priesthood is binding beyond this life, We claim that President Nelson is authorized to speak for God here on earth. We claim that we are the only ones who have the authority to baptize people into God's church even if those people are already dead. We claim the authority to seal families together forever.

I am perfectly fine with those who want to approach the Book of Mormon as a pseudepigrapical text  but I think that approach impacts those claims of authority to act in God's name. 

 

Additionally I don't think the impact of scriptural historicity on LDS claims to authority is limited to the Book of Mormon & PofGP, though that is most often discussed. I think that the historicity of the Pentateuch has as much of or a greater impact on those claims. If the stories we know from the Bible about the Biblical patriarchs  are not at least mostly true, it undermines the whole foundation, in my mind. If Abraham was a myth that pretty much does away with the whole authority claim for us, does it not?

 

So yes I believe that historical accuracy for Mormonism is very important.

Agree. I don't believe in historicity of those things. But I don't take that position lightly, like it doesn't matter. I acknowledge it requires a completely different paradigm on a lot of important LDS views.  

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22 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Robert, many other writers have produced texts of similar complexity without training.  I'm wondering if you've read through Richard Van Wagoner's Natural Born Seer and the appendix section that compares the BoM to other texts of similar complexity that have been produced through dictation or automatic writing or other similar methods.  Its quite interesting.  Also, I liked Ann Taves Revelatory Events and the A Course in Miracles creation which had some interesting parallels.  I don't find these arguments that others haven't done what Joseph did credible, because they have and there are examples to compare. 

https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/john-milton-joseph-smith-and-book-mormon
John Milton, Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon
Author Robert A. Rees

Quote

This comparison of Joseph Smith and John Milton focuses on their literary output and especially the preparation each had for dictating a long religious work, in Milton's case Paradise Lost and in Smith's the Book of Mormon. Most notable authors, including Milton, had a long apprenticeship that involved writing several "try works," practice works that served as tutorials and stepping stones preparing their authors for their magnum opus. Joseph Smith had no such trial period for learning how to weave together intricate subplots, multitudes of characters, and historical background detail. Milton, in particular, had all the advantages of a first-rate English education. Smith, by contrast, had the most meager of educational opportunities. According to his wife, at the time he dictated the Book of Mormon, he "could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter." In spite of these disadvantages, Smith dictated most of the Book of Mormon over a period of less than three months, whereas Milton's dictation of Paradise Lost took place over more than a decade. While it has been popular since 1830 for critics to debunk or diminish the Book of Mormon, it has stood the test of time in more ways than one.

Rees has also written other articles on the topic.

 
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2 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

The claims you mention evolve over time and are different based on different leaders, so I'm not worried about aligning to any particular leader's opinion about truth claims.

I have a priesthood lineage chart my father got for me when he ordained me an elder. It shows his name, then Harold B Lee's name, who ordained my dad an elder, then it goes back though Heber J Grant to George Q Cannon To Brigham Young to Joseph Smith to Peter, James and John, and then to Christ.  Based on this chart, I can trace my priesthood authority in only eight steps right to Christ. So while I agree with you on how the authority has been used differently in many ways since the restoration, the claim to the have that authority remains the same. You do not have to align yourself with any leader's opinion necessarily, but you do have to acknowledged that leader has the priesthood from God in a similar way my chart shows. If Joseph made up the Book of Mormon, it would cast a serious shadow of doubt on the rest of his claims, like those to have received the Melchizedek  Priesthood.

 

 

23 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

As for scriptural historicity, it seems important to a more orthodox view, but as I've learned more about critical biblical studies, I recognize the difficulty in attributing historicity to the majority of the text that religions have used.  So that's what has turned me to seeking metaphorical meaning from the texts.  Scriptural literalism seems very limited and rigid from my current vantage point.

I agree the more one looks at Biblical criticism the more problematic it becomes to view those texts as actual history, and that I think that is as big or bigger a threat to Mormonism than a historical Book of Mormon. Obviously if certain stories in the Bible are just refashioned myths made out of older myths then what it is we are actually restoring? More myths? It's tough to base actual claims to God's authority on a myth.

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3 minutes ago, champatsch said:

https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/john-milton-joseph-smith-and-book-mormon
John Milton, Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon
Author Robert A. Rees

Rees has also written other articles on the topic.

 

I'll post some of those examples from Van Wagoner tonight when I get home, there are some interesting ones.  The quote from Emma about not being able to write or dictate a letter seems proven false by early letters that JSP has published and the early D&C sections dictated by Joseph.  His grammar wasn't good, that's for sure, but it wasn't good for the original manuscripts of the BoM either and thats after having Oliver and other scribes help with it.  The examples Van Wagoner shares include other less educated individuals as well.  

Milton is an interesting comparison though because some have speculated that Joseph's concepts about Satan and other ideas in Paradise Lost may have influenced Joseph's cosmology.  I'm one that tends to think there are some interesting parallels.  

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