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Where did the Book of Mormon come from?

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2 minutes ago, JarMan said:

1) This transcendent genius did exist in the 17th Century in Europe.

2) Joseph Smith could have accessed it through the seer stone.

This is easier to believe than a 4th Century genius produced it. 

This is a very interesting theory, but I don't understand it. I think you ought to develop it.

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10 minutes ago, JarMan said:

Nope. Solomon Spalding. 

I don't think so ... that is a horse that won't run.

Edited by bdouglas

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10 minutes ago, bdouglas said:

such a theory is about as convincing as the theory that Shakespeare really didn’t write the plays that bear his name but some other guy, or group of guys. But the fact is, only Shakespeare was really circumstanced to write the plays

Funny you should say this: http://www.mormondialogue.org/topic/69696-could-the-book-of-mormon-be-a-17th-century-pious-fraud/?page=4&tab=comments#comment-1209764183

 

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6 minutes ago, bdouglas said:

I don't think so ... that is a horse that won't run.

Right. This was my idea of a joke. 

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7 minutes ago, bdouglas said:

This is a very interesting theory, but I don't understand it. I think you ought to develop it.

I don’t want to derail this thread. But I’ve had several threads in the last few months on this subject. 

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3 minutes ago, Nevo said:

Interesting (the link). It is hard to imagine the man Shakespeare writing those plays——unless you think of it not as a creative process but rather an outpouring. He didn't rewrite. He sat down and he wrote, like he was taking dictation.

But I don't think Shakespeare are JS are analogous.

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1 minute ago, JarMan said:

I don’t want to derail this thread. But I’ve had several threads in the last few months on this subject. 

I'll have to read up.

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1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I'm familiar with this.  In fact I've been following this subject for multiple decades and I've seen multiple apologetic attempts like this over the years.  

Phaedrus 

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6 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

True.  It was a best-seller, although it was not more common that the Book of Common Prayer.  However, what is your point here, Bernard?

Has anyone investigated the potential impact Bunyan’s writing may have had on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon? Do we know anything of the familiarity  Joseph’s family may have had with the book? It is in the Early Modern English period and was extremely influential in America in the 1700s and early 1800s. Just wondering if anyone has thought about the possible influence it may have had on Joseph’s education, use of words, scriptural knowlege, theology, etc. It’s impact on American culture was huge, and has, in fact, been vastly underestimated, as documented in this excellent paper:

Quote

What scholarship that exists on this infiltration of The Pilgrim’s Progress into American culture usually focuses on its devotional usage in the colonial period or parodies and children’s editions in nineteenth-century literature. Yet such treatments have thus far still underestimated precisely how thoroughly Bunyan’s book—awareness of which was once the very “mark of a good American,” in one author’s opinion—has seeped into the American social fabric. Since David E. Smith complained nearly a half-century ago, “Too little attention has been paid to Bunyan’s impact on American culture,” no one has yet taken on his implied challenge......

Neither did the reputation of The Pilgrim’s Progress wane through the early decades of the nineteenth century, when the number of reprints in America was “literally countless.” David E. Smith has shown in fact that perhaps the apex of Bunyan readership in America occurred during the first two decades of the nineteenth century:
From 1800 to 1810 there were more printings of works by Bunyan that at any other comparable period either earlier or later. After 1820, publishing interest in Bunyan declined appreciably, and even considering the second peak decade 1840-1850, when there were at least twenty- two editions of The Pilgrim’s Progress, there was never again such a profusion of American editions of Bunyan’s works as appeared between 1800-1820....

Galen K. Johnson. “The Pilgrim’s Progress in the History of American Public Discourse.” LATCH 4 (2011): 1-31.

And this....

Quote

No other English work (excepting the Bible) has been so widely read over such a long span of time as has been John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Up until the twentieth century it was a standard household book in English-speaking homes, a common sight on bookshelves alongside the Bible. Most adults today have heard of the famous allegory, but few have actually read it, and even fewer are aware of the worldwide impact that the book has had and continues to have in terms of culture, religion, literature and language.

http://meganabigail.blogspot.com/2010/03/impact-of-pilgrims-progress.html

 

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44 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

Has anyone investigated the potential impact Bunyan’s writing may have had on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon? Do we know anything of the familiarity  Joseph’s family may have had with the book? 

One thing that doesn't get mentioned often is that Joseph Smith Sr. supposedly had an incredible memory and the ability to intelligently discuss a wide range of topics for hours on end:

"[Joseph Smith Sr.] was a slim man about 5 feet 11, and always appeared to be in a deep study. From the time of his first visit until his religious scheme was sprung I don't believe he missed a night without stopping with me for at least three hours. There wasn't a subject he couldn't discuss intelligently, and my opinion of him was high. His memory was something extraordinary. He could repeat several chapters of a book verbatim after it had been read rapidly." - William Hyde

If Joseph Smith Sr. could repeat chapters of books verbatim, this could explain a lot about Joseph Jr's abilities and access to knowledge. From the interviews Sr. gave about the narratives of the Book of Mormon, it seems to me he knew the stories better than anybody. If we're looking for an influence on the Book of Mormon, I'd propose Joseph Smith Sr. He quite literally could have been a walking library.

Edited by Rajah Manchou
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12 hours 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.

This is true.  If it is historical, then it is vetted by other historians.  If it is scientific, then the theories the author puts forward are tested and peer reviewed over and over again.  If it stands up, then it is accepted, such as Ernestine's theory of relativity, or Charles Darin's theory of evolution. It it doesn't stand up to scrutiny, then it is discarded.  Like cold fusion was a few years ago.  Great works are great because they have successfully been vetted.

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10 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

What the book says about its own origins isn't really evidence to explain the books origins.  That seems to be a circular argument to me.  The origin of the book is dictation by Joseph, which is how Joseph and his closest confidants explained the process.  This is an important point to emphasize I believe, that we know Joseph produced this text through dictation.  

Now if you want to start asking a separate question about what other factors may have influenced Joseph in this production.  Then you can get into speculation about God (I'm not sure how anyone could prove this through scholarly means, its solely in the realm of a faith claim.)  Was Joseph getting ideas from other sources, i.e. some ancient history written in another language, some 19th century works, some 17th century works, the KJV, Milton, Swedenborg, local preachers, etc.  These kinds of questions are all secondary in my view. 

I still find it odd that these same kinds of questions aren't asked of the works by Einstein, or Michelangelo.  Why don't we study what influencing factors helped them produce their works?  Why not do a detailed analysis of Mark Twain's Huck Finn to determine what other texts may have influenced his writing, and what parallels can be found.  It just seems to me that much of the efforts around doing this with the BoM are an effort to prove something for bragging rights of sorts, and this kind of work doesn't have a whole lot of pragmatic value for mankind.  Throw out the exclusivity claims of Mormonism, and we could save a ton of time and effort on all these kinds of studies, and perhaps just focus on the meaning of the text rather than this obsession with how it was produced by Joseph Smith.  Joseph produced it, now lets see if there is anything valuable about the message in the text.  

I'm not sure what you think the great works have not been scrutinized and analyzed.  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Einstein's work has been studied and scrutinized for had many hundreds or thousands of hours with the intent to see if it can be falsified. All of the seminal scientific, historical and social works have.  Even mark Twain's Huck Finn, which is literature, and makes no extraordinary claims is studied and analyzed in our university classrooms.  If that work would have been plagiarized, then that would have been exposed long ago.  The Bible has been exposed to centuries of review and has been analyzed ad nauseam for many possible: literary, historic, cultural, etc.   I really don't see that the BoM has been treated any different. 

 

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11 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

The value of the BoM from my vantage point lies precisely with respect to its ability to enrich the human experience and teach truths, beauty and goodness.  It’s origin is Joseph Smith.  Whether there are other parallels or not, how Joseph produced it, is much less important in my eyes.  Those can be interesting questions, but can also distract from the content of the BoM.  I don’t just assume that all studies are of equal value.  If I were to prioritize and rank what I think is most important it would be the practical impact and value of the BoM on enriching the human endeavor.  

From your “vantage point” (a place or position affording a good view of something), the origin of the Book or Mormon is Joseph Smith and how he produced it is unimportant to you, but this plays down the book’s contents touching on the “truth, beauty and goodness” of its origin and how it was to be produced, which is part of its practical impact and value on enriching the human experience. How do you define “enrich the human experience” and “enriching the human endeavor” using the vantage point contained in the Book of Mormon (some key references would be great).

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18 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

Newton, Einstein, Beethoven, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, etc.  Do anyone else spend so much time asking where they came up with their masterpiece works? 

I like your examples here.  I believe they were all inspired by God with regard to their art and science.  None of them claimed to be prophets of God, although their gifts pointed us to God.  All were human.  Some had a faith crises, which doesn't discount the amazing nature of their gifts.  You may also want to bring Joan of Arc into that mix. 

Joseph Smith, on the other hand, declared himself a prophet, called by God.  He told fantastic stories of what had happened to him from age 14 on.  He was persecuted, ridiculed, criticized by religionists of his day.  He stuck with his story under very trying circumstances that should have caused a fake to give it up rather than persist.  The easiest response could have been "Well, I was only 14.  I was mistaken.  It was only a dream." 

The Restoration of the Gospel through him was consistent with the stories he told as a 14 year old.  The Book he translated as a 24 year old (remember when you were 24?) was very complicated in terms of characters, plots, and consistency correlating it's teachings with the Bible.  And it contained evidence within it that millions testify is proof of it's authenticity.

Consider these facts:  He translated the book in less than 70 days.  (Have you ever tried to write a book-- even a simple book, without the aid of a word processor of some sort?)  In the midst of translation, he showed the pages to eleven witnesses.  He introduced the angel to three witnesses who never denied it, even after leaving the Church.  That probably wouldn't be too difficult, would it?  Find three prominent men in your community who would be willing to put their reputations on the line, signing a fantastic statement that they had seen an angel, seen and held the gold plates with apparently ancient appearance, heard a voice-- the voice of God, and declared the book to be true.  Then remained true to that testimony the rest of their lives in the face of much persecution.  Would you persist in sustaining such a fraud?

Following translation, young Joseph was able to win the confidence of a man who mortgaged his farm to publish it.  Would you do that?  When people read and prayed about it, they left home and family for years to travel without purse or script in many foreign lands to tell others about it.  The people who heard and believed it's message left their belongings and came to America, many never to see their families again.  Many brought their wealth and resources to build up the Church.   

He and his people were driven from pillar to post for 14 years of his life before his martyrdom, and afterwards made a hazardous trek in the freezing winter to the Utah desert where they could worship in peace. During his short life, he persisted although dogged by a crescendo of lawsuits and people who wanted to kill him and eventually did.

The evidences of the Book of Mormon's authenticity are internal.  There are ways to verify it's truth that are so persuasive, millions have put it to the test and left homes, family and countries to unite with the Saints and build up what they say is God's kingdom on earth.

Joseph and his people built temples, excavated a malarial swamp to build the beautiful city of Nauvoo on the banks of the Mississippi that became a model for city planning.  I could go on and on and on with the miracle that is Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon and the Restoration of the Gospel. 

And the eleven witnesses?  Count me as a witness of it's truthfulness and authenticity, along with many others who read this thread.  I have read it, prayed to know for myself, have received compelling knowledge directly from God that I cannot deny.  I have also read the testimony of skeptics throughout the past 45 years.  As disturbing as it is, and it is very disturbing, it cannot overcome the knowledge I have obtained by applying the promise in Moroni 10.  It cannot overcome the fruits of it in my life.  The same Spirit that converted me to Jesus Christ and transformed my life, my wife's life, my two brothers lives, and our children also testifies that the Book of Mormon is a true book.

As interesting and enjoyable as the comments on this thread are, there is a way to get past the confusion and skepticism.  Read the Book and pray about it.  Take some time, say a couple months.  Read and pray persistently.  Fast about it.  I believe the answer will come for you as it did for me.  But if skepticism persists, I believe God honors our best efforts at living virtuous lives, and the answer will come in due time.

Edited by Meerkat
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10 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

So your (and Richard Van Wagner's) answer to the question of the ultimate origin of the BofM is to provide a series of instances in which people came up with long and complex books of one sort or another.  Without critical scholarship, however, that is meaningless.  As you are aware, "critical scholarship" does not mean negative scholarship, but rather has to do with critical, systematic thinking and study of an item or issue.  Usually in a multidisciplinary way.  This approach is regularly used by scholars of the ancient world when they find and translate ancient documents of any kind.  That sort of study can help distinguish forgeries from authentic items, and can categorize documents into various genres.  The contents and meaning of those documents help reinforce the understanding of the other documents.

The amount of material written by Curran, Worth, Muhammad, Lorber, and Schuman is largely irrelevant, although that does mean that there is more material available to analyze.  Also, if a lengthy document has strong internal coherence, that might suggest a planned content and a long process of editing to make it all fit.  Most important of all, one must check the details to see whether they are factual.  Some of that can be seen in scholarly retrospect.  For the Urantia volume, for example, the content and theory internal to it are indicative of the time when it was written, and it provides non-factual information based on scholarly assessments in geology, history, ans astronomy which could only be known after the fact, i.e., through discoveries made since publication of the book.

You’ve got this all backwards.  Joseph Smith dictated the BoM.  Those making the claim that he couldn’t possibly be the author, have the burden of proving that fatastical claim.  Quoting a comment from Emma that he was too uneducated to produce the text is not evidence enough to support that claim.  The simple answer is Joseph is the author.  Any claims otherwise ought to be looked at with great skeptism.  Just making the statement that nobody else has ever produced a compribal work isn’t backed up by evidence.  

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10 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Nevo just brought to my attention this from RT back in 2013, but it is still relevant today:

Mind you, RT does not believe in the historicity of the BofM, but he doesn't downplay the actual complexity of the book, and he admits that Joseph may not have been able to write the book.

I appreciate the link and RT’s blog is very good.  This is a possibility of course, but would need to be supported by significant and substantial evidence.  

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4 hours ago, sunstoned said:

I'm not sure what you think the great works have not been scrutinized and analyzed.  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Einstein's work has been studied and scrutinized for had many hundreds or thousands of hours with the intent to see if it can be falsified. All of the seminal scientific, historical and social works have.  Even mark Twain's Huck Finn, which is literature, and makes no extraordinary claims is studied and analyzed in our university classrooms.  If that work would have been plagiarized, then that would have been exposed long ago.  The Bible has been exposed to centuries of review and has been analyzed ad nauseam for many possible: literary, historic, cultural, etc.   I really don't see that the BoM has been treated any different. 

 

They are studying the content of the production.  I’m not aware of studies that question the source of the content, or question how the author could have possibly produced these works. 

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1 hour ago, CV75 said:

From your “vantage point” (a place or position affording a good view of something), the origin of the Book or Mormon is Joseph Smith and how he produced it is unimportant to you, but this plays down the book’s contents touching on the “truth, beauty and goodness” of its origin and how it was to be produced, which is part of its practical impact and value on enriching the human experience. How do you define “enrich the human experience” and “enriching the human endeavor” using the vantage point contained in the Book of Mormon (some key references would be great).

My assumption on how he produced it is the same way other authors produce literature.  

The value of the contents of the book is more of a subjective observation and will vary based on the individual and society.  

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Let me touch on a few things we should be aware of in this discussion.

Native speakers produce their language — specifically their syntax and grammar (morphosyntax) — for the most part subconsciously.  Online searches for implicit knowledge and grammar will verify that linguists consider this to be axiomatic.

Syntax and grammar are noncontextual to a relatively high degree, compared with, say, content-rich phrases.  The former are what need to be studied in order to determine authorship.  Most (non-linguists) study the latter.

The (morpho)syntax of the Book of Mormon can be studied and described; systematic and non-systematic usage can be noted.  The same is true of the King James Bible and other texts, such as pseudo-biblical texts.

Pseudo-biblical writings can be considered a control group in relation to the linguistic form and structure that Joseph Smith might have produced had he been attempting to mimic biblical style in 1829.

Joseph was repeatedly exposed to King James idiom growing up.

Thus, either adherence to biblical language or deviations from biblical language that are fairly close to pseudo-biblical patterns could support the position that Joseph was the author or English-language translator of the Book of Mormon text.

On the other hand, there is nothing to indicate that Joseph was well‑versed in many Early Modern English texts when he dictated the Book of Mormon. Hence, large deviations from both biblical and pseudo‑biblical patterns that approach attested archaic usage could support the position that Joseph was not its author or English-language translator.

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8 minutes ago, champatsch said:

Joseph was repeatedly exposed to King James idiom growing up.

Thus, either adherence to biblical language or deviations from biblical language that are fairly close to pseudo-biblical patterns could support the position that Joseph was the author or English-language translator of the Book of Mormon text.

On the other hand, there is nothing to indicate that Joseph was well‑versed in many Early Modern English texts when he dictated the Book of Mormon. Hence, large deviations from both biblical and pseudo‑biblical patterns that approach attested archaic usage could support the position that Joseph was not its author or English-language translator.

Well, doesn't it seem more likely that Joseph was the author?  Why would God have a translation scheme like the EmodE theory suggests, assuming one believes that the Book of Mormon is inspired?  We have the Book of Moses and the D&C that are seemingly more direct in that God or Jesus supposedly give the words directly to Joseph Smith.  So, why the in between steps for the Book of Mormon?  It would seem that God would want to be more direct if the Book of Mormon is so important as the church claims.  Or do you think God wanted some mystery mixed in his book?

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Do you think that why questions have higher probative value in this matter than primary linguistic evidence such as (morpho)syntax?

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13 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

A fair-minded assessment, but where does that leave us?  How are we to deal responsibly with such issues?  Is it even possible?

I suppose you would need to be more specific about what you mean by dealing responsibly with the issues of historicity. as it applies to the Priesthood.

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34 minutes ago, champatsch said:

Joseph was repeatedly exposed to King James idiom growing up.

Thus, either adherence to biblical language or deviations from biblical language that are fairly close to pseudo-biblical patterns could support the position that Joseph was the author or English-language translator of the Book of Mormon text.

On the other hand, there is nothing to indicate that Joseph was well‑versed in many Early Modern English texts when he dictated the Book of Mormon. Hence, large deviations from both biblical and pseudo‑biblical patterns that approach attested archaic usage could support the position that Joseph was not its author or English-language translator.

Have you look at the Oberlin Maunscript to see if EmodE usage is in there?

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17 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

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.  

I agree...and this is why reading the Book of Mormon again at this point...presents a different perspectives from things I have learned from other good books and the process of allowing myself the freedom to think...to keep..or to ignore..learning is a growth all by itself.  The reason that I went back to the Book of Mormon was because there are certain things that were forgotten that was brought to light here on this board and others.  It is interesting..for exmormon to read the Book of Mormon again. 

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48 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

My assumption on how he produced it is the same way other authors produce literature.  

The value of the contents of the book is more of a subjective observation and will vary based on the individual and society.  

I didn't ask about your assumption on how Joseph Smith produced the Book of Mormon; since you've repeatedly pointed it out and mentioned that it isn't important to you, I don't care (in a nice way). But I do wonder why you keep bringing that up... :)

Of course the value of the contents of the book is more of a subjective observation and will vary based on the individual and society, which you have ranked as the highest priority for you. My question is: "How do you define “enrich the human experience” and “enriching the human endeavor” using the vantage point contained in the Book of Mormon (some key references would be great)." What do you think the book says about enriching the human experience and enriching the human endeavor? I mean, you are human, you have endeavors, you have the capacity for enrichment, and you have read the Book of Mormon enough to cull out some examples of its practical impact and value on you think it means with regards to enriching the human experience and enriching the human endeavor, for you.

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      I am looking for a list of words used in the Book of Mormon that have a different meaning today. For example 'awful' use to mean full of awe rather than bad. Thanks for the help. 
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