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hope_for_things

Where did the Book of Mormon come from?

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13 hours ago, Bill "Papa" Lee said:

You know I love you Jeanne, and enjoy your posts and perspectives. Maybe, and my guess is that the Spirit left you, it is just lying dormant waiting to bloom again when the warmth of your soul gives it enough light. Now, I know that sounds like the poet in me, but I have walked through the "Valley of the shadow of death" many times. Because any poet worth his salt must struggle to the mountain tops, remain for a short while (well it seems short) and then pass through the valleys of depression, where I now reside. This must be so that the things that I write have meaning and depth, and the ability to act as a lifeline who cannot put their own feelings into words. Something great I hope will emerge from this present darkness, hopefully before the darkness overtakes me for good, as in never lets me out.

As for the questions that continue to mount, let me tell you of something I learned long ago. "If in my entire life I ever thought I would find all the answers, it was only because I never knew there would be so many questions". Most answers will never fully be answered in this life. As the Apostle Paul taught, "...in this life we see through a glass darkly". So in many cases, what we are seeing are shadows, shapes and colors, and then (for most) making our best guest. We it not so, if we had all the answers, we could not live by Faith, but by perfect knowledge, and our judgement would be brutal, as we would have no defensce. So please my dear sister, "hear" my words, because I try to write in such a way that you can hear with your soul. God bless you, God comfort you, and may God heal you, that you may hear the music again. 

You know I have had trouble with my hearing for so long, my wife of 42 years, (and we are now expecting our 9th grand baby in two months) is always listening to what others say to me. Not to intrude, but to repeat when words or phrases I don't understand, or pick up on. A couple of months ago, my grandson was trying to tell me something, when I told him I did not understand, his reply was, "what's wrong, are your ears broke"? That hurt so bad, I just retired to my room and did not come back out. It was not his fault, turns out his preschool teachers are using this phrase on my grandson and others when they don't listen. The worst part, is the Collage Grad, who majored in preschool child development and education, that teacher is my own daughter-in-law, living in my homes. She was mortified he would say that to his Papa, but who better than one who is almost deaf in my left ear, and have demised capacity in the right  

You know..I love you too Papa...your life experiences shared relate to some of my own experiences.  I am happy that you are happy and get to have all these grand children and share with a wife (grandmother)...I will never have that.  Though I appreciate your thoughts and hope for me..it is important that you realize that I am not in the dark..because I left the LDS church does NOT mean that the spirit has left me..this is thinking that needs to be done away with between mormons and ex mormons..Thanks for your love..for that beautiful poem you wrote me...and for understanding so much of heart.  But I do not live in darkness..I am so full of love and gratitude.

Edited by Jeanne
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16 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.  

So what WOULD convince you and others that the text of the Book of Mormon originated from the source Joseph claimed (i.e. from God)?  I think this is a valuable question to ask and may shed light on what appropriate standards should exist.

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20 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

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.

With all due respect, perhaps you're baffled because you have a flawed understanding of Biblical research, which you cite.  Biblical research is at its best when it analyzes the English text in the context of the languages in which it was originally written.  As a fully realized English text, the Book of Mormon researchers have no consistent source language(s) on which to rely.  It's all opinions and guesswork.

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Joseph may have dictated it to his scribes, but someone else translated it centuries before Joseph. 

Knowing that you tend to side with scientific rigor, I'll point out that you have a reached a conclusion not supported by evidence. 

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So, where did the BofM ultimately come from?  Any good ideas?

You sort of answered your first question with your second question.  Someone, or somebodies, thought they had a good idea to write a Bible Part II in order to address the issues of the day and prepared a manuscript that was a pastiche of styles, writings, thoughts available to Smith and, likely, others.  It was prepared and dictated to scribes.  It's as obvious as the English words on the page.  IMHO.

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8 hours ago, phaedrus ut 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 

What is your overall evaluation of it?  How do you feel about analyses of the epistles of Paul for true authorship?  Have they improved their efforts over the years?

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1 hour ago, Jeanne said:

You know..I love you too Papa...your life experiences shared relate to some of my own experiences.  I am happy that you are happy and get to have all these grand children and share with a wife (grandmother)...I will never have that.  Though I appreciate your thoughts and hope for me..it is important that you realize that I am not in the dark..because I left the LDS church does NOT mean that the spirit has left me..this is thinking that needs to be done away with between mormons and ex mormons..Thanks for your love..for that beautiful poem you wrote me...and for understanding so much of heart.  But I do not live in darkness..I am so full of love and gratitude.

I agree, this would mean that only around one percent ( not sure what the statistics are lately) would have the spirit in the world. 

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1 hour ago, DJBrown said:

So what WOULD convince you and others that the text of the Book of Mormon originated from the source Joseph claimed (i.e. from God)?  I think this is a valuable question to ask and may shed light on what appropriate standards should exist.

I think it could come from God at the get go and Joseph expounded on that. I do think he could have had a spiritual connection with God/Jesus. I believe he didn't like what he saw as far as religion goes and went to God and asked. I believe he wanted answers, especially to things like if his brother Alvin really was going to hell, and quickly got an answer that no, because his brother hadn't been baptised, he would still go to heaven. But then I think Joseph got a little power that went to his head, and may have gone off the rails after that, especially with polygamy. I believe that there were a few just like him, that were able to write books of scripture, and have had revelations and have purported to have had visits from the divine or God/Jesus. So he isn't the only one. I believe in angels and if you go through what Joseph did early in life, I believe you could be closer to those on the other side. 

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1 hour ago, Jeanne said:

.it is important that you realize that I am not in the dark..because I left the LDS church does NOT mean that the spirit has left me..this is thinking that needs to be done away with between mormons and ex mormons

This is what you said yourself and what he was responding to:

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cannot get that spirit back. 

 

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6 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

I agree, this would mean that only around one percent ( not sure what the statistics are lately) would have the spirit in the world. 

Thank you.

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1 minute ago, Calm said:

This is what you said yourself and what he was responding to:

 

This is what I said of course..I should have explained that the spirit that had left..was the spirit that connected me to that moment that said the Book of Mormon was true..but the spirit that is in me to seek truth and understanding and prayerful thoughts are still there.  Not lost; not found..just a search for truth.  The spirit of the Holy Ghost lives in all of us..IMO.

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2 minutes ago, Gervin said:

With all due respect, perhaps you're baffled because you have a flawed understanding of Biblical research, which you cite.  Biblical research is at its best when it analyzes the English text in the context of the languages in which it was originally written.  As a fully realized English text, the Book of Mormon researchers have no consistent source language(s) on which to rely.  It's all opinions and guesswork.

Actually that isn't true at all.  One can take any translated text (not available in the "original" language) and analyze the substantive claims with hard archeology, history, etc.  Scholars do that all the time with translated texts, such as the LXX, MT, targums, etc.  Finding an absolute date in a Babylonian eponym calendar is used to correlate otherwise relative dates in the Bible, and so in the BofM.  Sometimes the results are startling and lead to additional conclusions.  There is a plethora of examples.

2 minutes ago, Gervin said:

Knowing that you tend to side with scientific rigor, I'll point out that you have a reached a conclusion not supported by evidence. 

So you simply sweep aside years of detailed research by Carmack & Skousen as a dead end?

2 minutes ago, Gervin said:

You sort of answered your first question with your second question.  Someone, or somebodies, thought they had a good idea to write a Bible Part II in order to address the issues of the day and prepared a manuscript that was a pastiche of styles, writings, thoughts available to Smith and, likely, others.  It was prepared and dictated to scribes.  It's as obvious as the English words on the page.  IMHO.

One Protestant pastor (can't think of his name now) wrote a book explaining that Joseph wanted to defend God, and so wrote the Book of Mormon.  I think Signature republished it.  That accords with what you suggest here.  Problem is that Joseph himself thought it ungrammatical, and tried to improve that grammar in the 1837 and 1840 editions -- not realizing that it was not ungrammatical in Early Modern English (a language he could not have known).

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10 hours ago, Nevo said:

Virtually all? Now I'm curious to know which one(s) you think might have merit. :)

Rather than the scatter-gun approach in which everything is anachronistic, choose only those items which have substance and discuss those.  Specific items may have strong merit, pro or con, but we will never know unless we actually discuss them.  RT, for example, complained that it made no sense for Laban to be a captain of fifty, until I pointed out to him biblical precedent for that sort of organizing principle.  On the other hand, RT was right to find it preposterous that a poorly defined group in Jerusalem had control of a set of Brass Plates engraved in Egyptian.  Certainly an odd and umprecedented feature of the story at best.  What sort of reasonable explanation for that can be found, if any?

10 hours ago, Nevo said:

There is a very great difference between writing a fairly short message on a single sheet of metal and writing an entire book on metal plates. And this latter otherwise unattested feat is what we find over and over in the Book of Mormon: with the brass plates, the plates of Ether, the plates of Nephi, the plates of Mormon...

You are referring to only one small item in my evidence for books on metal plates.  I wanted to show that the language dealing with such engraving on metal plates could be found in biblical Hebrew.  Other citations dealt with the larger context of ancient books on metal plates.  The argument needs to be taken as a whole, not piecemeal.  That does not prove the existence of such BofM plates, but it does remove them from the realm of fairy tales.

10 hours ago, Nevo said:

Not in preexilic Jerusalem.

Methodist scholar Margaret Barker takes the view that the Deuteronomic Reform specifically removed many of the "Christian" elements from the Hebrew Canon and tradition, but that it was maintained by marginal groups, which we find reasserting themselves at Qumran and in early Christianity.

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2 hours ago, champatsch said:

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

If the conclusions of an investigation imply that God must be relying on showmanship or fantastical means, maybe the correct conclusion should be that man invented the whole thing?  It seems to me that man makes use of magic  and other means that fraudsters and hucksters use for other goals (perhaps as Dan Vogel claims or maybe as others claim)? The God who supposedly created our brains would seem to be a better communicator than to have to resort to indirect means and magic.  When magic gets involved, there is a danger that the spectacle will overtake the message, but that is what inventors of religion want because it gives more authority when the people are entertained.  One may say that I am substituting my worldview for what God's might be, but religion does the same thing.  We can't interview God on the subject of EmodE and so we are left to speculate as to what happened.  I prefer to believe that if the mormon God exists, he uses the same kind of logic He supposedly blessed us with and parsimony should be involved in our endeavors.  That is not to say that explanations can't be complex.  However, in this case, it would seem that this is just Joseph saying what God supposedly said instead of God directing things, and using a little showmanship to wow his audience.  Direct revelation like occurred, supposedly, in the Book of Moses and the D&C would have saved us a lot of needless speculation over the book of mormon.  However, humans always like a good show and if one is going to invent something, it may as well be as fantastical as possible?

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13 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Actually that isn't true at all.  There is a plethora of examples.

Then please cite specific examples of "minute textual studies" that "analyze the genre and structure of every part of English text" of the Bible that do not refer to and use source language. 

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So you simply sweep aside years of detailed research by Carmack & Skousen as a dead end?

Identifying words or phrases of a pre-19th century origin in the Book of Mormon is hardly shocking.  What proof is there that there was a pre-translation of the dictation?

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One Protestant pastor (can't think of his name now) wrote a book explaining that Joseph wanted to defend God, and so wrote the Book of Mormon.

“To defend something is always to discredit it. Let a man have a warehouse full of gold, let him be willing to give away a ducat to every one of the poor - but let him also be stupid enough to begin this charitable undertaking of his with a defence in which he offers three good reasons in justification; and it will almost come to the point of people finding it doubtful whether indeed he is doing something good. But now for Christianity. Yes, the person who defends that has never believed in it. If he does believe, then the enthusiasm of faith is not a defence, no, it is the assault and the victory; a believer is a victor.”

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2 hours ago, Exiled said:

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? 

I used to suppose that the Holy Spirit provided the thoughts, and that Joseph supplied  the language to express them as he dictated the BofM -- a kind of input to his brain, from which he expressed the meaning in his own words and cultural understanding.  Others took the view called "plenary inspiration" in which the words were dictated to Joseph and he simply repeated them verbatim -- directly from God or an angel.  That makes Joseph out to be a talking dog act, and this is the approach many take to biblical prophecy as well.

2 hours ago, Exiled said:

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?

The problem is that we always have those annoying in between steps whenever God speaks to humans.  God may be infallible, but his human prophets are not, and there is always a problem with limited human language.

2 hours ago, Exiled said:

  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?

I have no explanation for why we have an Early Modern English Book of Mormon.  The fact is what it is.  Certainly a mystery, and I have no idea what God had in mind -- just throwing us a curve ball?

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16 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I used to suppose that the Holy Spirit provided the thoughts, and that Joseph supplied  the language to express them as he dictated the BofM -- a kind of input to his brain, from which he expressed the meaning in his own words and cultural understanding.  Others took the view called "plenary inspiration" in which the words were dictated to Joseph and he simply repeated them verbatim -- directly from God or an angel.  That makes Joseph out to be a talking dog act, and this is the approach many take to biblical prophecy as well.

The problem is that we always have those annoying in between steps whenever God speaks to humans.  God may be infallible, but his human prophets are not, and there is always a problem with limited human language.

I have no explanation for why we have an Early Modern English Book of Mormon.  The fact is what it is.  Certainly a mystery, and I have no idea what God had in mind -- just throwing us a curve ball?

Fair enough Robert, to me the stone in the hat strikes me as showmanship for an audience, but I could be mistaken.  Religion and showmanship seem to go hand in hand at times, although today, the church deliberately shies away from that sort of televangelist stuff.  Also, maybe God intentionally makes things difficult to understand to promote learning, like when my parents were teaching me to swim and would make me believe that I only had to go so far ... and then they would back up while I was swimming toward them.  It really made me mad at the time. :vava:

Perhaps God isn't the stogy scientist and is more of an artistic being that likes a little flare and verve?

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12 minutes ago, Gervin said:

Then please cite specific examples of "minute textual studies" that "analyze the genre and structure of every part of English text" of the Bible that do not refer to and use source language. 

College courses on the Bible as literature typically approach it exactly in that fashion, no knowledge of the underlying text necessary.  A nice text for that is Northrop Frye, The Great Code: The Bible and Literature, or Leland Ryken, Literary Introductions to the Books of the Bible, online at https://g.christianbook.com/ns/pdf/sample/542176.pdf . One finds a similar approach to the BofM in Grant Hardy, A Reader's Guide to the Book of Mormon, which does not take an apologetic approach.  One need not be a believer to appreciate such studies.  I am astonished that you are unfamiliar with such works.

12 minutes ago, Gervin said:

Identifying words or phrases of a pre-19th century origin in the Book of Mormon is hardly shocking.  What proof is there that there was a pre-translation of the dictation?

Scholars don't deal in "proof," but rather allow the data to indicate the facts on their own.  Joseph merely dictating a text from a stone in a hat is not the same thing as translating.  Surely you don't consider reading a text message on your phone to be "translating."  So there is no "pre-translation," but rather a translation by someone during the 16th or 17th century.  How or why that took place is a mystery to me.  The data leave all  of us hanging.

12 minutes ago, Gervin said:

To defend something is always to discredit it. Let a man have a warehouse full of gold, let him be willing to give away a ducat to every one of the poor - but let him also be stupid enough to begin this charitable undertaking of his with a defence in which he offers three good reasons in justification; and it will almost come to the point of people finding it doubtful whether indeed he is doing something good. But now for Christianity. Yes, the person who defends that has never believed in it. If he does believe, then the enthusiasm of faith is not a defence, no, it is the assault and the victory; a believer is a victor.”

Sounds like Orwellian newspeak right out of WH.  Do you actually accept that gobbledygook, Gervin?

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3 hours ago, CA Steve said:

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.

Not sure what you have in mind here, Steve.  I am generally in favor of scholarly rigor and fairness, and was responding to your reasonable comments:

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22 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.

 

Edited by Robert F. Smith

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5 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Scholars don't deal in "proof," but rather allow the data to indicate the facts on their own.  Joseph merely dictating a text from a stone in a hat is not the same thing as translating.  Surely you don't consider reading a text message on your phone to be "translating."  So there is no "pre-translation," but rather a translation by someone during the 16th or 17th century.  How or why that took place is a mystery to me.  The data leave all  of us hanging.

Hi Robert.

 

A point of clarification if you don't mind.  Are you saying that the pre 19th century text in the Book of Mormon could only be there because of a translation that took place by someone in the 16th or 17th century?  No other explanation is possible? To me the only conclusion one can make at this time regarding this issue is that there is text in the Book of Mormon that seems to call into question Joseph Smith as a sole author according to what we currently understand  were his abilities.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Not sure what you have in mind here, Steve.  I am generally in favor of scholarly rigor and fairness, and was responding to your reasonable comments:

 

Well you asked me;

"How are we to deal responsibly with such issues?  Is it even possible?"

Were you being rhetorical? If not then I am not sure what you were asking.

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4 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

You’ve got this all backwards.  Joseph Smith dictated the BoM.

Of course he did.  I thought we already agreed on that.  However, dictation is not translation.

4 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

 Those making the claim that he couldn’t possibly be the author, have the burden of proving that fatastical claim.

I don't know of anyone who has ever approached the BofM with the purpose of proving that Joseph did not do the translation -- either as a pseudepigraphon (fictional creation), or by the power of the Holy Spirit.  He clearly could not actually read Egyptian.  So everyone has taken it either as fiction or fact transmitted by Joseph, in his language, to dutiful scribes.  By doing basic research on the language of the Book of Mormon, it became apparent that the text was in Early Modern English.  This was a complete surprise, although it meant that the text was not at all ungrammatical.  All of us had just assumed that it reflected Joseph's poor English as a local yokel.  Our assumptions were wrong.

4 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

 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.  

No country bumpkin like Joseph has ever produced a work comparable to the BofM.  You and Richard Van Wagoner are simply wrong.  Whoever produced it had complete command of the standard English of his day, which was the 16th or 17th century.  He had to have been well-educated and brilliant, and he had to have had plenty of time on his hands to manage the details of the book with charts, notes, and revisions.  Ignoring the evidence will not make it go away.

Even at that, however, we still have the nagging problem of facts internal to the BofM which are accurate and descriptive of actual ancient civilizations.

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6 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

Well you asked me;

"How are we to deal responsibly with such issues?  Is it even possible?"

Were you being rhetorical? If not then I am not sure what you were asking.

I was referring directly to your comments, which I recopied for you.  The issues are as you stated them, and I highlighted them.  I am asking how we are to address those issues, and whether you think it even possible.  You commented on LDS claims to authority, which can be vitiated by questions about historicity of the BofM, and perhaps even more directly by the Torah.  You concluded by saying that historical accuracy is very important.

I agree with all that, and was simply wondering whether you think we can deal responsibly with such issues, and if is it even possible?

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15 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

Appeals to authority don’t impress me much these days.  I’m more interested in appeals to pragmatism.  

Hope, have enjoyed you posts and threads for years, what are you looking for, what does impress you? What is it that you are searching for? Are you a believer in God, in his ability to speak to man, have you become agnostic or unbelieving in the existence of God? If so is there anything I can do to help? 

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25 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

........A point of clarification if you don't mind.  Are you saying that the pre 19th century text in the Book of Mormon could only be there because of a translation that took place by someone in the 16th or 17th century?  No other explanation is possible? To me the only conclusion one can make at this time regarding this issue is that there is text in the Book of Mormon that seems to call into question Joseph Smith as a sole author according to what we currently understand  were his abilities.

For all I know, Joseph may have been no more than a ventriloquist's dummy, doing no more than reading the words and phrases he saw on his stone.  Others define him as the actual author of a pseudepigraphon.  Since we now know that this last notion was impossible, we are left in limbo, wondering how an Early Modern English text got into Joseph's hands at all.

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My post is in answer to those that state Joseph Smith lacked the skills to write the Book of Mormon. And I'll add that I believe I can get a testimony of the truth of the BofM, especially where Christ is concerned. I see nothing wrong with believing in the book. I just think that Joseph could have written a lot of it. Especially when I read the c/p below. Also, the BoM has been edited with over 4,000 changes, so I believe that if it had been word for word from God's mouth while he read it off the stone in the hat, then I believe we are tampering with God's exact words, so that causes some dilemmas, IMO. Plus, back in the 1800's people didn't have technology. They had more time for reading, writing, and poetry. It was their entertainment!

https://medium.com/@jellistx/fact-checking-mormon-history-could-joseph-smith-have-authored-the-book-of-mormon-8b5a29a6f519

Translation Chronology

Joseph translated at a rapid clip, averaging about eight pages a day during his periods of active dictation. This is sometimes summarized as completing the Book of Mormon in about sixty working days, which is true, but in such a summary we miss two important points. First, Joseph had years in which to plot out his story in his mind — at least during the four years in which he said he was being taught by Moroni, and possibly as far back as his 1820 theophany — second, that the transcription of the Book itself was frequently interrupted by breaks for weeks or months in which Joseph could recharge his creative energies.

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7 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I was referring directly to your comments, which I recopied for you.  The issues are as you stated them, and I highlighted them.  I am asking how we are to address those issues, and whether you think it even possible.  You commented on LDS claims to authority, which can be vitiated by questions about historicity of the BofM, and perhaps even more directly by the Torah.  You concluded by saying that historical accuracy is very important.

I agree with all that, and was simply wondering whether you think we can deal responsibly with such issues, and if is it even possible?

Honestly, I don't know how to answer that for us, and I am not even sure I know how to answer that for me.

I guess the best I can say for me is the older I get the more I realize how incomplete my world view is.

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      A symposium on "EGYPT AND THE OLD TESTAMENT" will be held at the Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst, Gabelsbergerstr. 35, Munich/München, Germany, on 6-7 Dec 2019.
      The proceedings will be published as ÄAT (AEGYPTEN UND ALTES TESTAMENT) volume 100.
      More on the symposium can be found at https://www.freunde-abrahams.de/aegypten-und-altes-testament/  .
      ÄAT's spectrum covers the philological, art historical, and archaeological branches of Egyptology, as well as Old Testament exegesis, the archaeology, glyptics and epigraphy of Israel/Palestine and neighboring regions such as Sinai and Transjordan, literature and history of religions, from the Bronze Ages up to Greco-Roman and early Christian periods, as well as relevant aspects of research history.
       
    • By Bernard Gui
      At the end of Alma 37, Alma gives his final instructions to his faithful young son Helaman. After encouraging him always to be obedient to God’s commandments and to pray to God continually, Alma uses the Liahona as an object lesson to teach Helaman how to obtain eternal life through following the words of Christ. Using analogy, Alma compares the Liahona, the temporal compass provided by God to Lehi, with the words of Christ, the spiritual guide provided to all by God. In this remarkable passage, Alma, like all good teachers, repeats this image three times, and like a good Nephite teacher, he uses a parallelism to increase the impact.
      Alma employs the alternate parallel form, one of the most common and effective forms of poetic parallelism in the Book of Mormon. It appears hundreds of times. An alternate consists of two or more lines that are repeated in parallel order. The simple alternate form is outlined ABAB. Extended alternates are outlined ABCABC, etc. 
       Alma uses three extended alternates in rapid sequence to instruct his son. 
       A   For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, 
          B   which will point to you 
              C   a straight course to eternal bliss, 
      A   as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, 
           B   which would point unto them 
               C   a straight course to the promised land.
      The A phrase compares the ease of heeding the words of Christ with the ease of looking at the Liahona. The B phrase describes the purpose of A which is to point the course. The C phrase declares the final destination of those who follow A, salvation and arrival at the promised land.
       A   For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, 
         B   by following its course, 
             C   to the promised land, 
      A   shall the words of Christ, 
         B   if we follow their course,
             C  carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.
      The A phrase again compares the words of Christ with the Liahona, but in reversed order. The B phrase indicates what we should do with A – follow their directions, and the C phrase gives the destination of those who do B – the promised land and a far better place, eternal life. 
       A   for so was it with our fathers; 
         B    for so was it prepared for them,
            C   that if they would look they might live; 
      A   even so it is with us.
         B   The way is prepared, 
            C   and if we will look we may live forever.
      In this last alternate, Alma personalizes the analogies of the first two. The A phrase compares the Nephite fathers (Lehi and Nephi) with Alma and his son Helaman. The B phrase indicates that God prepared the ways of direction for all of them. The C phrase compares the physical salvation of the Nephite fathers by following the Liahona with the spiritual salvation promised to all of us who will look upon Christ.
      Alma concludes his instructions with another impassioned fatherly plea that his son rise to the greatness of his calling.
      This passage indicates deliberate logical planning on the part of Alma in giving crucial instructions to his son prior to his death. This is what Alma thought would be of most worth to his son - look to Christ. It gives us insight into the Nephite mind, especially that of a powerful and gifted leader. I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon and the beautiful intricacies that await in its pages for us to discover. (Thanks to Donald Parry for his marvelous edition of the Book of Mormon. Poetic Parallelism in the Book of Mormon: The Complete Text Reformatted. Maxwell Institute, 2007).
       Your comments are welcomed. 
       Here is the passage in context.
       
    • By Five Solas
      1. Read the Book of Mormon
      2.  Ask God
      3. With a sincere heart
      4. With real intent
      5. Having faith in Christ
      Failure is not an option, if you believe Moroni.  First, you must read.  Next, you must follow with prayer while meeting his remaining 3 prerequisites.  Then the truth of the Book of Mormon will be manifested to you.  Full stop.
      Therefore if the truth is not manifested, the reason is as plain as the nose on your face: One or more of the prerequisites were not met.  There is no alternate possibility.  "It’s very simple"—as President Trump is fond of saying in his press conferences.
      5 possible ways to fail, and only 5.  So here is a question:  With LDS Church growth stalling and 70+% of millennials going inactive/leaving the LDS Church by age 20 (courtesy of Mormonleaks), which of the 5 do you think represents the greatest challenge?  Or are they all equally challenging?  Or do you think it's some combination of them that present difficulty?
      And while we’re on the question, how exactly does one go about achieving the last three prerequisites?  Would any LDS seriously admonish an investigator to read the Bible first in order to attain “faith in Christ” prior to attempting the Book of Mormon?
      --Erik
      _____________________________________________
      For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
      --H.L. Mencken
    • By Robert F. Smith
      Annalee Newitz, “Most scientists now reject the idea that the first Americans came by land,” Ars Technica, Nov 4, 2017, online at https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/11/majority-of-scientists-now-agree-that-humans-came-to-the-americas-by-boat/ , with map,
      Todd J. Braje, et al., “Finding the first Americans,” Science, 358/6363 (3 Nov 2017):592-594, online at http://science.sciencemag.org/content/358/6363/592 ,
      It now appears that coming to America by boat was normal even from earliest times.  There is no longer any reason to credit the Beringia Land Bridge hypothesis, except in a much later period.
    • By Freedom
      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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