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Ryan Dahle

Why Not Engage the Evidence for Historicity?

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5 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I guess you miss the point, cinepro.  You are being too ethnocentric.  Jews don't look at Mormons as a challenge to their own ethnic, cultural, or religious status.  They see us as one of a number of different groups who are spin-offs from Judaism, just as they see Jesus as merely one Jewish cousin among many.  If anything, they take the superior view that they are the source, and that we are secondary.  They are bemused at the temerity of our missionary efforts.

After all,  the Nephites are authentic Israelites, the Book of Mormon an Israelite document, and we Mormons respect the Hebrew Bible and find the source of our Gospel to be the Jew known as Jesus.  The entire New Testament was written by Jews, and the early Christian Church was an exclusively Jewish organization.  Yet we do not suddenly convert to Judaism.

Among biblical scholars and archeologists, no one expresses much interest in which denomination or irreligious background/belief one may have.  Never comes up for discussion.  There is a passionate interest in reconstructing and understanding the ancient world.  That is a very different focus from what we normally find in the typical Mormon congregation.

Perhaps they compartmentalize such recognition.  Also, they often take the traditional view that they are the Chosen People of God, and the evidence of their choseness is as apparent as the existence of the State of Israel in the Latter Days -- the end of that long and bitter diaspora known as the Galut.  They may as well see the Mormons as part of that final Gathering (kibbutz Israel), authentic Book of Mormon and all.  The better question would be, Why do the Jews like the Mormons so well?  Why do they treat Mormons with such favor?

We have entertained Jewish scholars at BYU repeatedly, and we have collaborated in publishing books on such things as chiasmus.

Perhaps they and we are fitting quite well into this grander scheme from 2 Nephi 27....

Quote

10 Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.
11 For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.
12 For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.
13 And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.
14 And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.

 

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18 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

To me, that concurs with the description of how the Jewish high priest received revelation through the Urim v’Tummim.

Are you thinking of something along the lines of John Calvin describing the properties of the Urim & Thummim as follows:

Quote

The Urim was a conspicuous stone in the priestly dress, brilliant with a certain extraordinary light as even the word itself, which means brilliance, makes known.  And this brightness of the stone was a sign of the prophecy to be received as necessity required, just as when God himself flashes in darkness in whom alone is all perfection and completeness.[1]

Or of Jacob Milgrom recommending Victor Hurowitz’ “evidence from Starr (1990) for the Neo-Assyrian Šamas Anfrage is a fruitful source for understanding the modus operandi of the Urim and Thummim.”[2]


[1] Cornelis Van Dam, The Urim and Thummim, 29, cited in B. Gardner, The Gift & Power (Kofford, 2011), 128 n. 21; cf. R. N. Holzapfel, D. M. Pike, and D. R. Seely, Jehovah and the World of the Old Testament (SLC: Deseret Book, 2009), 109.

[2] Hurowitz, Association of Jewish Studies Review, 19 (1994):230-231, citing J. Starr, “Queries to the Sun God: Divination and Politics in Sargonid Assyria,” State Archives of Assyria, IV (Helsinki Univ. Press, 1990); W. Horowitz and V. Hurowitz, “Urim and Thummim in Light of a Psephomancy Ritual from Assur (LKA 137),” JANES, 21 (1992):95-115, from an August 1989 paper read to the 10th World Congress of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, online at  http://www.jtsa.edu/Documents/pagedocs/JANES/ 1992%2021/HorowitzHurowitz21.pdf .

Edited by Robert F. Smith

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32 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Maybe if I put it in a different context it will make sense. Let's say that an ancient Mesoamerican codex is discovered from around AD 600. And let's say in it there is a story about a prophet named Lehe who wakes up one morning and discovers a ball of fine gold outside his tent. This ball helps guide Lehi to a tree with white fruit. And enemies from a large tower mock those who like Lehi are journeying to the tree. The fruit of the tree is especially emphasized as being sweet and delicious. These details all show up in a few pages about this prophet in the codex. There are a number of other details in the story, but most of them seem to lack any direct connection to the Book of Mormon.

Would the archaeologists who discovered such a text feel it was historically accurate? Almost certainly not, especially regarding the fantastical discovery of the golden ball which points travelers toward the tree. To them it would be Mesoamerican mythos, perhaps with some relation to a real story, but no way to verify which portions are fact and which are fiction.

Yet such a story would go a very long way to help verify that the Book of Mormon is truly an ancient Mesoamerican document. Although the Mesoamerican account is clearly garbled, it is hard not to see very direct and interlinked parallels to the prophet Lehi from the Book of Mormon. The parallels are direct enough and the content is peculiar enough to conclude that the parallels are very strong and that they are extremely unlikely to occur, connected together as they are, by chance. The similar name, the journey to the tree with white fruit, the building with people mocking, and especially the strange ball that directs him, and which he specifically discovered outside his tent. 

Obviously, there is no such text, but it provides a very good analogous situation to the Enoch and Abraham material. Just like a Mesoamerican codex from AD 600, there is no plausible naturalistic explanation explaining how Joseph Smith had access to 2nd Enoch, 3rd Enoch, or the Book of Giants. One has to invent wild tales about obscure discoveries and subsequent English translations of these texts that have completely escaped the notice of textual historians and that somehow all managed to end up in the hands of Joseph Smith. And yet parallels much like those in the Lehe story above show up in these texts, especially in the Book of Giants.

The extremely low probability of these type of excellent and peculiar parallels being a product of random luck or derivation dramatically increases the probability that Joseph Smith's Enoch material and at least some of the extant Enoch lore come from an authentically ancient Enoch source.

No. It doesn’t! That’s a step in logic that people are taking without thinking it through. Miraculous parallels to late sources don’t require an authentic ancient source. Also, have you looked into the development of the Enoch tradition. It’s doesn’t look very hopeful.

32 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

In other words, the shared elements from each story (Joseph's and the extant Enoch material) are mutually corroborating in ways that simultaneously verify Joseph's prophetic ability as well as the historicity of the extant sources (at least the elements that closely match).  

Again, I concede that something extraordinary is going on, but I do not concede that these parallels suggest historicity of the text. That’s a jump in logic that doesn’t need to be made. Meanwhile, Enoch’s vision of a world-wide flood, his claim of a literal Adam and a fall that brought death, and the curse of Cain all straight forwardly suggest that the text is not historical. Add to that Enoch’s anachronistic inclusion of baptism, the name Jesus Christ and Only Begotten, Christ’s atonement for original guilt or sin, and the Comforter and Holy Ghost and associated New Testament intertextualty. Also, there’s the giants thing. 

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30 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Are you thinking of something along the lines of John Calvin describing the properties of the Urim & Thummim as follows:

Or of Jacob Milgrom recommending Victor Hurowitz’ “evidence from Starr (1990) for the Neo-Assyrian Šamas Anfrage is a fruitful source for understanding the modus operandi of the Urim and Thummim.”[2]


[1] Cornelis Van Dam, The Urim and Thummim, 29, cited in B. Gardner, The Gift & Power (Kofford, 2011), 128 n. 21; cf. R. N. Holzapfel, D. M. Pike, and D. R. Seely, Jehovah and the World of the Old Testament (SLC: Deseret Book, 2009), 109.

[2] Hurowitz, Association of Jewish Studies Review, 19 (1994):230-231, citing J. Starr, “Queries to the Sun God: Divination and Politics in Sargonid Assyria,” State Archives of Assyria, IV (Helsinki Univ. Press, 1990); W. Horowitz and V. Hurowitz, “Urim and Thummim in Light of a Psephomancy Ritual from Assur (LKA 137),” JANES, 21 (1992):95-115, from an August 1989 paper read to the 10th World Congress of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, online at  http://www.jtsa.edu/Documents/pagedocs/JANES/ 1992%2021/HorowitzHurowitz21.pdf .

No. I was not familiar with those. Thanks for pointing them out. I couldn’t find the Horowitz reference, though,  I realize that there are a number of theories about how it functioned. I was thinking of this one....

Quote

The High Priest stands facing the Ark of the Testimony, and the questioner stands behind him, facing the priest's back. The questioner does not speak out loud, neither does he merely think the question in his heart; he poses his query quietly, to himself - like someone who prayers quietly before his Creator. For example, he will ask "Shall I go out to battle, or shall I not go out?"The High Priest is immediately enveloped by the spirit of Divine inspiration. He gazes at the breastplate, and by meditating upon the holy names of G-d, the priest was able to receive the answer through a prophetic vision-the letters on the stones of the breastplate, which would shine forth in his eyes in a special manner, spelling out the answer to the question. The priest then informs the questioner of the answer.

Flavius Josephus writes (Antiquities 3:8:9) that the stones also shone brilliantly when Israel went forth into battle. This was considered as an auspicious sign for their victory.

Another midrashic passage indicates that when the tribes of Israel found favor in G-d's eyes, each respective stone shone brilliantly. But when particular members of any one tribe were involved in a transgression, that tribe's stone would appear tarnished and dimmed. The High Priest would see this phenomena and understand its cause. He would then cast lots within the rank of this tribe, until the guilty person was revealed and judged (Midrash HaGadol).

http://www.templeinstitute.org/beged/priestly_garments-8.htm

 

Edited by Bernard Gui
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3 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

Another example is intertextual analysis. There are super sweet and consistent internal relationships and great theological development, but what about intertextual relationships between the BOM and the NT, like when the BOM uses New Testament content and wording in large chunks like Mormon and Moroni with Paul’s content on charity and gifts of the spirit?

New Testament phraseology and thematic connection is only a problem when one posits from the outset that the translation has to be literal in all cases. This has never been a safe assumption though.

If Carmack and Skousen are correct, then the translation came, not from Joseph's mind, but through a divine process that is currently unknown. I strongly side with their translation theory. I think that both Carmack and Gardner, despite their differences, have both subscribed to the idea that the translation was probably dynamic to one degree or another. In other words it ran the gamut from functional to literal, and could probably shift between the two quite rapidly, depending on the method and goals of the divine translator(s) responsible for the text.

Functional translations can sometimes depart significantly from a literal translation in order to convey an idea that will best make sense to the target audience. Hence, the rationale for New Testament phraseology and quotations. I suspect the underlying ideas in the plate text were often conceptually similar to numerous aspects of New Testament theology and so were divinely packaged for a modern audience in a way that would intimately connect the Book of Mormon's theology with the Bible. It's sort of like a built-in cross reference system that helps us know where to look in the Old and New Testaments for similar theological concepts. That actually makes a lot of sense to me.

In other cases of more shared thematic content, it is very possible that God shared similar things with both Paul and Moroni. For example, we know that Nephi and John the Apostle were both shown the same things. And in some ways, Paul and Moroni had similar roles. They were both sort of messengers to the Gentiles and closers of their canons. Is it beyond reason to suppose that when Jesus visited Moroni he intentionally shared some of Paul's material with him, just as he shared Malachi with the Nephites at Bountiful. Considering the role that God knew the Book of Mormon would play in gathering Israel, and considering that a huge purpose of the Book of Mormon was to be a companion piece to the Bible, it would seem that God might just have revealed things and impressed BofM authors to select things or phrase things in ways that would oftentimes integrate the two records. Although it often seems like a naive knee-jerk reaction made believing members  who are first confronted with this issue, we wouldn't want to discount that God may have intentionally gone to greater lengths to orchestrate the integration of content between the three testaments than previously thought.

What doesn't make sense, though, is to suggest that Joseph, who apparently didn't know that Jerusalem had walls around it, was integrating hundreds of references from all over the Bible, on the fly, and sometimes in very sophisticated ways that extend far beyond mere shared phrases. For instance, look how Nephi's story simultaneously compares Laban with the Laban who deceived Jacob, Pharaoh who tried to prevent the Israelites from fleeing, and Goliath, whom David also slew with a sword. Go to the appendix in the following article to see an example of what I am talking about:

https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/why-was-the-sword-of-laban-so-important-to-nephite-leaders

We know he wasn't completely ignorant of the Bible before the BofM translation. But we also have reason to suspect that he wasn't by any means a well-read Bible scholar. How many references to Jerusalem's walls are in the Bible? Enough that he certainly should have known it if he were able to produce the intertextual references. Even if he were a well-versed Bible genius, it would still be an enormously impressive feat to integrate all the intertextual relationships among all the other content. For instance, the wide variety and pervasiveness of the Hebrew features alone would have made intertextual considerations difficult to simultaneously implement. And don't forget, he has to control his grammar and syntax to sound archaic at the same time. Also he has to keep track of his narrators and their different personalities. And the source texts. And the transmission of the plates. And the prophecies that need to be fulfilled. And the complex interweaving narratives and embedded flashbacks. And he apparently needs to make his characters' voices distinct enough that they are collectively more diverse than the voice diversity produced by 4 of the greatest novelists of the 19th century in 8 of their novels combined. Oh, and let's not forget the complex logistics and spatial relationships that need to be kept track of. And we also don't want to forget the three different calendar systems that have to be correlated together, and that the chronology needs to be updated on the fly. We wouldn't want to forget what year it is in the reign of the judges, now would we? And we also don't want to forget about all the brilliant doctrinal discourses that need to be good enough that nearly 200 years later millions of folks from all different countries and walks of life find them to be powerful and life-changing expositions of true principles. 

These New Testament phrases can easily be ascribed to instances of a divinely crafted functional translation or possibly to shared revelations in some cases. Yet they can't easily be ascribed to Joseph's own ability when considering the sheer weight of the intextuality on its own, the historically supported rapid pace and reported lack of reference materials during the translation process, and the numerous other complex and sophisticated things going on in the text at the same time. 

 

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22 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

....................................

And that difference was lost in translation? It wouldn’t have to be so, but it seems like whoever was translating would have fixed the issue.............................

This assumes that the original text contains directional terms familiar to the translator, and definable with precision, and that a translator would "fix" them.  None of those assumptions is likely to be true.  An alien culture using alien directional concepts is not necessarily going to make sense to a reader from another culture.  Much less that he would feel obligated to "correct" it, if he recognized it.  Translators are always confronted with the problem of updating or interpreting specialized words and phrases.  Spanish soldiers describing the macuahitl called it a "sword."  Native Mesoamericans seeing the Spanish horses called them "deer" and "tapir."  How should such terms be translated into English?  For Greek hippopotamus, we do not translate the term, which means "river-horse." We just leave it as is.

In Hebrew ymn means "right; south," while in Egyptian it means "right; west."  A simple matter of orientation.  One can include the Mongolian "right"="west" orientation, and multiply relativistic examples ad nauseum, but the simple fact is that some Mesoamerican people, the Isthmus Zapotec, use the term 'gya' "up, above," for "north" (Handbook of Middle American Indians, V:294; cf. Ether 7:5, 14:11); note the similar Classical use of Latin infra hos, "lower down than them," to mean "southward, downstream" (de Vaux, The Bible and the Ancient Near East, 1971, pp. 202-203). 

I won't go into the complexities of formal Mayan directions here, but they are not likely to make anyone happy who expects them them fit into our modern "Western" values.

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9 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

New Testament phraseology and thematic connection is only a problem when one posits from the outset that the translation has to be literal in all cases. This has never been a safe assumption though.

If Carmack and Skousen are correct, then the translation came, not from Joseph's mind, but through a divine process that is currently unknown. I strongly side with their translation theory. I think that both Carmack and Gardner, despite their differences, have both subscribed to the idea that the translation was probably dynamic to one degree or another. In other words it ran the gamut from functional to literal, and could probably shift between the two quite rapidly, depending on the method and goals of the divine translator(s) responsible for the text.

Functional translations can sometimes depart significantly from a literal translation in order to convey an idea that will best make sense to the target audience. Hence, the rationale for New Testament phraseology and quotations. I suspect the underlying ideas in the plate text were often conceptually similar to numerous aspects of New Testament theology and so were divinely packaged for a modern audience in a way that would intimately connect the Book of Mormon's theology with the Bible. It's sort of like a built-in cross reference system that helps us know where to look in the Old and New Testaments for similar theological concepts. That actually makes a lot of sense to me.

In other cases of more shared thematic content, it is very possible that God shared similar things with both Paul and Moroni. For example, we know that Nephi and John the Apostle were both shown the same things. And in some ways, Paul and Moroni had similar roles. They were both sort of messengers to the Gentiles and closers of their canons. Is it beyond reason to suppose that when Jesus visited Moroni he intentionally shared some of Paul's material with him, just as he shared Malachi with the Nephites at Bountiful. Considering the role that God knew the Book of Mormon would play in gathering Israel, and considering that a huge purpose of the Book of Mormon was to be a companion piece to the Bible, it would seem that God might just have revealed things and impressed BofM authors to select things or phrase things in ways that would oftentimes integrate the two records. Although it often seems like a naive knee-jerk reaction made believing members  who are first confronted with this issue, we wouldn't want to discount that God may have intentionally gone to greater lengths to orchestrate the integration of content between the three testaments than previously thought.

What doesn't make sense, though, is to suggest that Joseph, who apparently didn't know that Jerusalem had walls around it, was integrating hundreds of references from all over the Bible, on the fly, and sometimes in very sophisticated ways that extend far beyond mere shared phrases. For instance, look how Nephi's story simultaneously compares Laban with the Laban who deceived Jacob, Pharaoh who tried to prevent the Israelites from fleeing, and Goliath, whom David also slew with a sword. Go to the appendix in the following article to see an example of what I am talking about:

https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/why-was-the-sword-of-laban-so-important-to-nephite-leaders

We know he wasn't completely ignorant of the Bible before the BofM translation. But we also have reason to suspect that he wasn't by any means a well-read Bible scholar. How many references to Jerusalem's walls are in the Bible? Enough that he certainly should have known it if he were able to produce the intertextual references. Even if he were a well-versed Bible genius, it would still be an enormously impressive feat to integrate all the intertextual relationships among all the other content. For instance, the wide variety and pervasiveness of the Hebrew features alone would have made intertextual considerations difficult to simultaneously implement. And don't forget, he has to control his grammar and syntax to sound archaic at the same time. Also he has to keep track of his narrators and their different personalities. And the source texts. And the transmission of the plates. And the prophecies that need to be fulfilled. And the complex interweaving narratives and embedded flashbacks. And he apparently needs to make his characters' voices distinct enough that they are collectively more diverse than the voice diversity produced by 4 of the greatest novelists of the 19th century in 8 of their novels combined. Oh, and let's not forget the complex logistics and spatial relationships that need to be kept track of. And we also don't want to forget the three different calendar systems that have to be correlated together, and that the chronology needs to be updated on the fly. We wouldn't want to forget what year it is in the reign of the judges, now would we? And we also don't want to forget about all the brilliant doctrinal discourses that need to be good enough that nearly 200 years later millions of folks from all different countries and walks of life find them to be powerful and life-changing expositions of true principles. 

These New Testament phrases can easily be ascribed to instances of a divinely crafted functional translation or possibly to shared revelations in some cases. Yet they can't easily be ascribed to Joseph's own ability when considering the sheer weight of the intextuality on its own, the historically supported rapid pace and reported lack of reference materials during the translation process, and the numerous other complex and sophisticated things going on in the text at the same time. 

 

Yes, the intertextuality is fantastic, and no, I’m not willing to submit that JS came up with the intertextuality using his conscious knowledge. While a functional translation may satisfy you, it doesn’t do anything for me. Shared revelation could be a possibility, but there is no mention of working from a revealed text so there isn’t much to go on. Basically, you can justify this stuff away one item at a time, but in the end you have a pile of not fully satisfying answers to hold up a problematic theory of JS revealed texts.

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5 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

This assumes that the original text contains directional terms familiar to the translator, and definable with precision, and that a translator would "fix" them.  None of those assumptions is likely to be true.  An alien culture using alien directional concepts is not necessarily going to make sense to a reader from another culture.  Much less that he would feel obligated to "correct" it, if he recognized it.  Translators are always confronted with the problem of updating or interpreting specialized words and phrases.  Spanish soldiers describing the macuahitl called it a "sword."  Native Mesoamericans seeing the Spanish horses called them "deer" and "tapir."  How should such terms be translated into English?  For Greek hippopotamus, we do not translate the term, which means "river-horse." We just leave it as is.

In Hebrew ymn means "right; south," while in Egyptian it means "right; west."  A simple matter of orientation.  One can include the Mongolian "right"="west" orientation, and multiply relativistic examples ad nauseum, but the simple fact is that some Mesoamerican people, the Isthmus Zapotec, use the term 'gya' "up, above," for "north" (Handbook of Middle American Indians, V:294; cf. Ether 7:5, 14:11); note the similar Classical use of Latin infra hos, "lower down than them," to mean "southward, downstream" (de Vaux, The Bible and the Ancient Near East, 1971, pp. 202-203). 

I won't go into the complexities of formal Mayan directions here, but they are not likely to make anyone happy who expects them them fit into our modern "Western" values.

But when the directions better fit a hemispheric model we wonder if we should go down the rabbit hole of  crazy mistranslated Mayan directions.

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16 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

But when the directions better fit a hemispheric model we wonder if we should go down the rabbit hole of  crazy mistranslated Mayan directions.

I'm not an advocate for a Mesoamerican (or any other setting) for the Book of Mormon, but I've translated several thousand pages of historical documents (and published one critical translation), and Robert is not wrong. One doesn't have to go back very far in time to encounter directions that simply don't align with modern cardinal directions. The idea that translators can 'fix' such things suggests to me that you haven't had much experience working with actual documents from other times and places.

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37 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

..............................................

These New Testament phrases can easily be ascribed to instances of a divinely crafted functional translation or possibly to shared revelations in some cases. Yet they can't easily be ascribed to Joseph's own ability when considering the sheer weight of the intextuality on its own, the historically supported rapid pace and reported lack of reference materials during the translation process, and the numerous other complex and sophisticated things going on in the text at the same time. 

You have an impressive grasp of the literary mechanics of the BofM, Ryan.  Don't let anyone intimidate you or suggest that your assertions about BofM evidences are pure hokum.  You clearly understand the material and are able to describe it accurately.  In fact, much of what you say here has the makings of an excellent descriptive essay on the issue.  You might want to take everything you have said in this thread, combine and edit it, and then submit it for publication.  Indeed, you have said things in some other threads which may be equally as effective in summarizing the issues well enough to make them worthy of broader circulation.  Have you considered doing a book on such matters?

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30 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

But when the directions better fit a hemispheric model we wonder if we should go down the rabbit hole of  crazy mistranslated Mayan directions.

Depends on what you see as the "hemispheric model."  If you mean to say that the Land Northward is North America, and that the Land Southward is South America, what are you going to do with the short distances traveled in the BofM text?  Not to mention that South America is not actually south of North America.  These are generic, not precision directions:

image.jpeg.832e30497c796af2d6195cc0f47690cf.jpeg

Indeed, we do not even have to mistranslate any Maya directions in order to have problems in understanding.

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1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I won't go into the complexities of formal Mayan directions here, but they are not likely to make anyone happy who expects them them fit into our modern "Western" values....

Indeed, we do not even have to mistranslate any Maya directions in order to have problems in understanding.

 

I just read this paper. Now I cannot even remember what happy means.

Quote

Reviewing the material we have gathered, we find an interesting pattern. The languages that base terms for ‘east’ and ‘west’ on the verbs ‘exit’ and ‘enter’ are located along the Gulf Coast Lowlands, with extensions inland to adjacent groups: Huastec (and Nahuatl), Mixe, Yucatecan (and some Cholan), Chuj, and Kekchí (and Xinca). Along the fringes of this area are languages with mixed metaphors (some use of ‘exit’ and ‘enter’, but not for both terms: Chol, Quiché). In the Highlands, the terms are based on ‘rise’ and ‘fall’ (Totonac, Zoque, Tzotzil, Tojolabal), or ‘appear’ and ‘disappear’ (Mixtec, Zapotec). While the Sun is the subject of all these expressions, only in a restricted area can we associate the directional terms with the metaphor of leaving and entering a house, and this area centers on the Maya Classic zone and extends to its fringes.
The extreme chaos of terms for ‘north’ and ‘south’ reinforces the idea that these “directions” are almost irrelevant. Directional orientation is based on the movements of the sun, east to west, and the other two “directions” are of lesser importance. How, then, do we derive the system of four directions that is recorded in village barrios, regional states, and other matters? The solution seems to be, as Karen Bassie has argued (Bassie-Sweet 1996), that ‘east’ and ‘west’ are not directions at all, but are broad quadrants of the sky centered on, but not limited to, the cardinal directions ‘east’ and ‘west’. ‘East’ is the entire section of the horizon where the sun rises during the year, from solstice to solstice and back again. This quadrant is represented in site layout by the E-group complexes found at Uaxactun and elsewhere (Morley 1946:Fig. 3). ‘West’ is the corresponding quadrant where the sun is observed to set. ‘North’ and ‘south’ are simply the quadrants that lie between these two, that lie ‘at the sides of the sky’, ‘to the right hand’ or ‘to the left’. That is, two defined quadrants imply two others, giving a total of four. The “four corners of the Maya world” are simply the limits of the east-west quadrants, and do not imply four cardinal directions......

Etc., and so forth.

http://www.famsi.org/research/hopkins/DirectionalPartitions.pdf

 

Edited by Bernard Gui
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1 hour ago, Bernard Gui said:

Flavius Josephus writes (Antiquities 3:8:9) that the stones also shone brilliantly when Israel went forth into battle. This was considered as an auspicious sign for their victory.

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9. I will now treat of what I before omitted, the garment of the High Priest. For he5 [Moses] left no room for the evil practices of [false] prophets. But if some of that sort should attempt to abuse the divine authority, he left it to God to be present at his sacrifices when he pleased; and when he pleased to be absent. (25) And he was willing this should be known not to the Hebrews only, but to those foreigners also who were there. But as to those stones which we told you before, the High Priest bare on his shoulders, which were Sardonyxes; (and I think it needless to describe their nature; they being known to every body:) the one of them shined out when God was present at their sacrifices: I mean that which was in the nature of a button on his right shoulder. Bright rays darting out thence, and being seen even by those that were most remote: which splendor yet was not before natural to the stone. This has appeared a wonderful thing to such as have not so far indulged themselves in Philosophy, as to despise Divine Revelation. Yet will I mention what is still more wonderful than this. For God declared before-hand by those twelve stones which the High Priest bare on his breast, and which were inserted into his breast-plate, when they should be victorious in battle. For so great a spendor shone forth from them before the army began to march, that all the people were sensible of God’s being present for their assistance. Whence it came to pass that those Greeks who had a veneration for our laws, because they could not possibly contradict this, called that breast-plate the Oracle. Now this breast-plate, and this Sardonyx left off shining two hundred years before I composed this Book: God having been displeased at the transgression of his laws.

For anyone who is interested in Josephus’ description of the shining stones in the high priest‘s breastplate.

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7 hours ago, smac97 said:

But isn't that what Latter-day Saints are doing?  Looking at "evidence" to buttress (not supplant) faith?  Being "already persuaded on other grounds" as to the truthfulness of The Restoration?

I think it's great for someone who already regards a miracle as plausible to weigh evidence as best they can. Just because one has made a leap of faith doesn't mean one can never again walk the plodding steps of reason. The OP went so far, though, as to claim that Mormon evidence is clearly superior to opposing evidence. That's absurd, in my view. One can only feel that way if one forgets the enormous leap of faith that has been made to even consider Joseph Smith's claims remotely plausible. The reason why people are not pulled back into the Mormon boat by evidence about Hebrew wordplay is that their basic confidence that Smith's claims could even be plausible has already slipped, and at that point Hebrew wordplay is chaff in the wind no matter how nice the correlations may look.

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We already know that the Bible is "ancient," ...  but [this] doesn't lend credence to any claims of divinity ....  As one fellow put it to me years ago: "The only thing all those ancient bible sites prove is {that} the Bible is a really old fraud."

In contrast, The Book of Mormon is differently situated from the Bible.  There is a built-in gap in its historical transmission, consisting of some 1,400 years from when Moroni buried the plates to 1823, when the plates were re-discovered by Joseph Smith, Jr.  This “transmission gap” effectively precludes a naturalistic explanation of the text’s antiquity.   Consequently, if we someday discover persuasive archaeological or other evidence for the antiquity of The Book of Mormon, such evidence would have a far more persuasive impact on the veracity of the book's truth claims than would archaeological evidence for the Bible impact that book's truth claims.  

This is an interesting argument. You seem to be saying that it is much harder to support the Book of Mormon's antiquity than that of the Bible, but that if the antiquity of the Book of Mormon could somehow be established, that antiquity would support the Book of Mormon as divine revelation more strongly than the acknowledged antiquity of the Bible supports its divine inspiration.

I'm sure you're right. I'm sure you're right, because I think what you're saying is that while Biblical antiquity is just archaeology, to confirm the Book of Mormon as ancient would be tantamount to a miracle. You're right because such a major miracle would indeed be impressive. What I'm saying, though, is that something with the weight of a major miracle is never going to come from footnotes about Hebrew wordplay.

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4 hours ago, Physics Guy said:
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But isn't that what Latter-day Saints are doing?  Looking at "evidence" to buttress (not supplant) faith?  Being "already persuaded on other grounds" as to the truthfulness of The Restoration?

I think it's great for someone who already regards a miracle as plausible to weigh evidence as best they can. Just because one has made a leap of faith doesn't mean one can never again walk the plodding steps of reason. The OP went so far, though, as to claim that Mormon evidence is clearly superior to opposing evidence. That's absurd, in my view.

From the OP: "It is precisely the area of scriptural historicity where the evidence for LDS truth claims are the strongest, the most conclusive, and clearly superior to opposing evidences."

As regarding historicity, I think the difference of opinion stems not as much from "the evidence," and more from the presuppositional lens through which "the evidence" is viewed.

That said, the critics have, in my view, done a pretty poor job of marshaling evidence against historicity.  Meanwhile, the Mormons are doing a better and better job of marshaling evidence for historicity.  It still comes down to the lens, though.  And the Mormons obviously have the burden of proof here.

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One can only feel that way if one forgets the enormous leap of faith that has been made to even consider Joseph Smith's claims remotely plausible.

A "leap of faith?"  Sure.  "Enormous?"  No more than any other religious claim.

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The reason why people are not pulled back into the Mormon boat by evidence about Hebrew wordplay is that their basic confidence that Smith's claims could even be plausible has already slipped, and at that point Hebrew wordplay is chaff in the wind no matter how nice the correlations may look.

Oh, I think there are plenty of reasons why people (former Mormons) are not swayed by "evidence," one of the biggest being that they no longer look at the truth claims of the Church through the "presuppositional lens" of faith.  Without faith, the evidence is never going to be sufficient.  It's not supposed to be, though.

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We already know that the Bible is "ancient," ...  but [this] doesn't lend credence to any claims of divinity ....  As one fellow put it to me years ago: "The only thing all those ancient bible sites prove is {that} the Bible is a really old fraud."

In contrast, The Book of Mormon is differently situated from the Bible.  There is a built-in gap in its historical transmission, consisting of some 1,400 years from when Moroni buried the plates to 1823, when the plates were re-discovered by Joseph Smith, Jr.  This “transmission gap” effectively precludes a naturalistic explanation of the text’s antiquity.   Consequently, if we someday discover persuasive archaeological or other evidence for the antiquity of The Book of Mormon, such evidence would have a far more persuasive impact on the veracity of the book's truth claims than would archaeological evidence for the Bible impact that book's truth claims.  

This is an interesting argument. You seem to be saying that it is much harder to support the Book of Mormon's antiquity than that of the Bible,

Not exactly.  I'm saying that the antiquity of the Bible is already established.  It doesn't need to be supported.

In contrast, the antiquity of The Book of Mormon is disputed.  And its method of transmission from antiquity necessarily involves divine intervention (the 1,400 year gap from Moroni to Joseph was bridged by angelic visitations, visions, translating "by the gift and power of God" by a man with no training/education in the field, etc.).  

Brandt Gardner put it this way:

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Skeptics aren't persuaded that the Bible's historical pedigree or archaeological finds (like the Pool of Siloam that was recently discovered) mean anything precisely because those things are discernable without looking to God for an explanation (just like we can discern the historical pedigree and/or archaeological verification of The Odyssey, the Epic of Gilgamesh, etc.).

[Gardner]: That is a major difference in the issue of archaeology and text. The Book of Mormon is more dangerous than the Bible. If the Bible is historical and deals with religion, it can be seen as no different from any other historical text (they usually incorporate the dominant religion in the older traditions). The Book of Mormon, however, is a problem. If it is historical it becomes harder to dismiss. It is much easier to dismiss it at every turn, and therefore the level of archaeological support required by its critics is much different than that required for any other text of similar purported age.

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So if (and this is a really big "if") we someday discovery persuasive archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon (evidence of toponyms, for example), then the argument used against the Bible wouldn't work.

[Gardner]: Yes.  Dangerous.

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The gap in the historical transmission of the text could only be bridged by divine intervention. So archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon, if found, would have a far more persuasive impact on the veracity of that book's truth claims than would archaeological evidence for the Bible impact that book's truth claims.

[Gardner]: Precisely. That is the reason that you won't see many non-believers giving any quarter here. Evidence that would be sufficient for Homer, for instance, is not sufficient for the Book of Mormon (actually - it wouldn't be for me either - I would want more -). Still, there is a point at which more should be sufficient.

I've long appreciated the work of Gardner, Peterson, Sorenson, Nibley, Welch, Midgley, Hamblin, Gee, Roper, Lindsay, and many other LDS scholars who are researching and providing more information for us to consider.  I acknowledge that their "presuppositional lens" renders them partial to one side of the debate, but then, the same can be said for the critics.

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but that if the antiquity of the Book of Mormon could somehow be established, that antiquity would support the Book of Mormon as divine revelation more strongly than the acknowledged antiquity of the Bible supports its divine inspiration.

Again, not quite.  I'm not sure the antiquity of the Book of Mormon needs to be "established."  Plausibility is the goal here.

But otherwise, yes, evidence of antiquity for the Book of Mormon would operate as evidence of the truth claims of that book in ways that evidence for antiquity of the Bible does not.

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I'm sure you're right. I'm sure you're right, because I think what you're saying is that while Biblical antiquity is just archaeology, to confirm the Book of Mormon as ancient would be tantamount to a miracle.

Pretty much.  As Brandt Gardner put it (above): "Precisely.  That is the reason that you won't see many non-believers giving any quarter here."

This is why critics insist on declaring there is zero evidence for the antiquity of the Book of Mormon, when in fact there is.  The question is not about the existence of such evidence, but rather of the evaluation and competency and probative weight of such evidence.  Critics refuse to "give any quarter" here because any movement toward establishing plausible grounds for antiquity is, as Gardner put it, "dangerous."

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You're right because such a major miracle would indeed be impressive. What I'm saying, though, is that something with the weight of a major miracle is never going to come from footnotes about Hebrew wordplay.

Oh, I agree.  But what if it comes from somewhere else?  As Gardner puts it, "there is a point at which more should be sufficient."

So what is "more?"

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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On 6/22/2018 at 10:58 AM, Ryan Dahle said:

Why is it that so many people, on their way out of the LDS church, don’t seriously engage with this massive body of evidence that could potentially help revitalize their testimonies?  I have personally invited quite a few individuals struggling with faith to take this information seriously and to engage it thoroughly, and in essentially all cases the response has been to essentially ignore the offer.

I guess I want to hear from some of you—who have chosen to not seriously engage these evidences—explain why you have made this choice, especially in light of my analysis above. And I am being sincere here. I don’t want to rehash each of these issues and prove I am right. I just genuinely want to understand your rationale.

I think that you are mostly right.  However, the only problem with apologetics is that classical apologetics assumes that all truth claims need to be defended.  I personally believe in more of a Neo-apologetic stance, where certain assumptions that are not core to our religion can be discarded, and don't need to be defended.  A couple of examples are young earth creationism and a global flood championed by the Rod Meldrum types.  There is nothing in these stances that are central to our religion, and they ought to be let go of.  On the other hand, I believe that something like Book of Mormon Historicity or the literalness of the first vision is not negotiable.

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6 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

You have an impressive grasp of the literary mechanics of the BofM, Ryan.  Don't let anyone intimidate you or suggest that your assertions about BofM evidences are pure hokum.  You clearly understand the material and are able to describe it accurately.  In fact, much of what you say here has the makings of an excellent descriptive essay on the issue.  You might want to take everything you have said in this thread, combine and edit it, and then submit it for publication.  Indeed, you have said things in some other threads which may be equally as effective in summarizing the issues well enough to make them worthy of broader circulation.  Have you considered doing a book on such matters?

Well, thanks. I appreciate that. I have thought about publishing on this topic, but things are still simmering. 

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1 hour ago, EdGoble said:

A couple of examples are young earth creationism and a global flood championed by the Rod Meldrum types.  There is nothing in these stances that are central to our religion, and they ought to be let go of.  On the other hand, I believe that something like Book of Mormon Historicity or the literalness of the first vision is not negotiable.

A specific geography is not required. Let it go and nearly all the dead weight of anachronisms goes poof. There are numerous examples in the Christian, Jewish and Islamic faiths of an unidentified 'promised land' across the great waters. Muslims feel no obligation to prove where Jabarsa is. Jews don't bother identifying the location of the Sambation River. Christians don't care where the Island of the Blessed is. Mormons don't need to fret where Zarahemla is. Come on, even Margaret Barker (arguably more popular among Mormon apologists than many of their fellow Mormon apologists) proposes that Jews fled to an undisclosed location in the 6th century BC.

"The extraordinary similarity between a text that is sometimes called the History of the Rechabites and sometimes the Narrative of Zosimus—the extraordinary similarity between this story and the story of Lehi leaving Jerusalem—has already been studied by Mormon scholars. This ancient text, which survives in Greek, Syriac, and Ethioptic, tells the story of some people who left Jerusalem about 600 BCE and they went to live in a “blessed land.” They didn’t drink wine. They were called the sons of Rechab, which could mean that Rechab was their ancestor, or it could be the Hebrew way of saying that they were temple servants, priests who served the divine throne. In their blessed lands, angels had announced to them the incarnation of the Word of God from the holy virgin who is the mother of God. Nobody can explain this text." - Margaret Barker

"Remnants of the older faith survived in many places, preserved by the descendants of those who fled from Josiah’s purge.  There were the mysterious sons of Rechab whose story was told in the History of the Rechabites.  Beneath the layers of fantasy and folk tale in this widely known ancient text, we glimpse a group who described themselves as angels, and who had fled from Jerusalem after the time of Josiah.  Angels had released them from prison, and they had escaped to the desert, and crossed the great sea to a Paradise land of fruit trees, honey and abundant water.  Angels continued to inform them about events in their former world, and so they knew about the life of Jesus.  Zosimus, who visited the Rechabites, brought back stone tablets with an account of them.  Now Rechab is an interesting name; it can also mean a chariot, and so the angel sons of Rechab might have been the devotees of the chariot throne in the temple who fled from Jerusalem after Josiah’s purge, and settled somewhere across a great sea." - Margaret Barker


The Book of Mormon fits the geography and narrative of an unidentified paradise place, a holy land, perfectly. Why wreck it with a limited geography that is out of alignment?
 

Edited by Rajah Manchou
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11 hours ago, cinepro said:

In addition to the list above, two of the most damaging things for the Theory of Divine Origin are the incompatible theories regarding the location of Book of Mormon events,

I'm not sure how damaging the existence of the Heartland Model is.  Pretty much its only proponent is Rod Meldrum, who has a vested financial interest in advancing this theory, and who hasn't done a very good job of mashaling evidence in favor of this theory (see, e.g., here and here).  He and his compatriots also tend towards incivility, which does not impress (see, e.g., here and here).  "If you disagree with me then you are necessarily dishonest/ignorant" is not the way to go.

There are, of course, numerous proposed models of the geography of the Book of Mormon (Wikipedia's summary here is quite good).  But a lot of them have not really stood the test of time.  And there seems to be a coalescence around the Limited Geography / Mesoamerica model(s).  If plausibility, rather than definitive certainty, is the objective, then this seems pretty good.

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and the inconclusive evidence for whether or not the translation was "loose" or "tight."  Those are two drastically different methods of translation, and invoking both to explain different aspects of the translation weakens the likelihood that either were used.

I'm not as concerned about this.  Regardless of a "loose" or "tight" translation, we're still left with the prospect of accepting that the translation process came through divine revelation, and not through the learning of men.  Accepting the prophetic claims of Joseph Smith is a leap of faith either way.

Thanks,

-Smac

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I don't understand, frankly, why anybody bothers with world-wide flood any more.  It was always based upon a faulty understanding of the Hebrew, as I understand it.

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אֶרֶץ צִיּוֹן וִירוּשָׁלַיִם.

Ha-eretz ‬ doesn't always, indeed rarely ever, means the whole earth.  In the quoted lyric, we are talking about Jerusalem and Mt Zion, if I'm correctly informed.  We definitely we shouldn't assume that the absence of those qualifiers in a particular sentence, especially one at least 2500 years old [by most conservative estimates], should mean "whole world."   The absence of a qualifier  ...  especially when the context and understanding of the writer(s) and immediate audience are informed by a world view where tiny Judea is the only land worth talking about.

This is not really apologetics, it is good linguistics. 

Woody Allen really got it:

 

 

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On ‎6‎/‎22‎/‎2018 at 11:58 AM, Ryan Dahle said:

Why is it that so many people, on their way out of the LDS church, don’t seriously engage with this massive body of evidence that could potentially help revitalize their testimonies?  I have personally invited quite a few individuals struggling with faith to take this information seriously and to engage it thoroughly, and in essentially all cases the response has been to essentially ignore the offer.

I guess I want to hear from some of you—who have chosen to not seriously engage these evidences—explain why you have made this choice, especially in light of my analysis above. And I am being sincere here. I don’t want to rehash each of these issues and prove I am right. I just genuinely want to understand your rationale.

Since this question was addressed to folks like me and my viewpoint is a bit different than what others on this thread have said, I'll offer my point of view.

Personally, I am fascinated with questions like why are we here, where did we come from, and where are we going. And I believe the truth matters--we ought to care about what is real--we ought to sincerely investigate things and base our life decisions on the truth. This attitude towards the big questions and towards the truth are qualities I received from my Mormon heritage.

Books that deal with these issues that I really like and could read over and over include A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, The Big Picture by Sean Carroll, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari.

When you read these books, you get a real sense of what we know, how well we know it, why we know it, and what we don't know. You get a sense for how various scientific disciplines interact with each other. You begin to understand how answers from biology, genetics, evolution, geology, plate tectonics, astrophysics, quantum mechanics, psychology, sociology, etc., all reinforce each other and paint a compelling picture of what's really real. All of these things fit together.

The hypothesis that the Book of Mormon is an accurate translation of a genuine ancient manuscript just doesn't fit into the real world. It isn't plausible. I know most people here disagree with me on this point, but there it is. The Book of Mormon is fiction that is compatible with the views of a 19th Century young-earth creationist Christian. It isn't compatible with what we now know about reality. Seriously examining the evidence for the historicity of the Book of Mormon feels like seriously examining the evidence for the Earth really being flat. That is why it's easier to politely ignore the evidence you present rather than seriously engage in it.

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21 minutes ago, USU78 said:

I don't understand, frankly, why anybody bothers with world-wide flood any more.  It was always based upon a faulty understanding of the Hebrew, as I understand it.

Ha-eretz ‬ doesn't always, indeed rarely ever, means the whole earth...

In your view, was the Garden of Eden in Missouri? Without a flood, how did the decedents of Adam get to the old world?

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10 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

Let’s not forget the facsimiles or the princess kitumen translation.

The Katumin and Onitas bit isn't a translation from what I can see but a bit of revelation. So it's more akin to Moses 1 than the Book of Mormon. I know they were then also copied into the Alphabet and Grammar but as I mentioned I think that's best seen as an attempt to decipher Egyptian using texts rather than working from the Egyptian to the text. Indeed since it was dictated to Cowdery and Phelps and then later associated with Egyptian text that's actually a compelling argument for that theory of working backwards. But I'll admit that I've just not been following the latest Egyptian stuff so I'm somewhat out of date here. Perhaps there's been more evidence since I last heard about this.

10 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

There is a Hebrew translation of a BOM passage that was dictated by JS (pre-Hebrew studies) and is nonsense.

Again, do you have a link to something more on this? I'm quite ignorant of this and would like to read the context. I'm afraid my google-fu failed me. This is a new thing I've just not heard of before.

10 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

And that difference was lost in translation? It wouldn’t have to be so, but it seems like whoever was translating would have fixed the issue.

Not quite following. Why assume the translation method would do that? For that matter, given that we're dealing with Mormon summarizing things centuries later, why assume he necessarily understood such matters. This is the sort of thing that in a contemporary translation would get a footnote and that are notoriously hard to translation. My favorite example of this sort of cultural marker is from when I was studying Russian and dealing with "shake hand" since in Russian it's much more about shaking the arm. So from my experience with language small nuances of how wide a direction is tends to be precisely the sort of thing lost in translation.

10 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

The vision of the plates being returned to cave in the hill should be considered here.

Not following the argument here since it's a vision and not necessarily referring to the New York Cumorah. I don't quite see how that helps.

10 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

You can make that argument for Ether, but less so for the vision of the flood in Moses.

I'm not following again. The vision in Moses is just chapter 1 and the flood isn't mentioned. There's Moses 7:38 but that just says that Enoch's local acquaintances will perish in a flood not that the flood is global. When Joseph reaches the Noah passages of Genesis again it's not clear it's a global flood in the least. Remember that the word translated "earth" is eretz and is pretty vague. People might read Moses 8 and assume it's global but there's nothing in the text suggesting that. The main arguments in Genesis for a global flood relate to the mountains, not the word eretz.

Now of course by the time Genesis 6-7 is compiled out of prior sources (and likely heavily influenced by the similar Babylonian accounts) the whole earth is assumed. But that's post-exilic. So my working assumption is always that the OT text is mostly post-exilic and corrupt. However if we're just talking about Joseph's revisions there's nothing major addressing the issue. Although I assume that, like most people in the United States at the time, Joseph assumed it was global. 

I'm certainly open to specific texts in the revision you feel imply a revelation for a global flood. However thus far all global flood arguments I've seen rest upon the tradition KJV text combined with traditional interpretations. If anything I think the vision of Enoch implies a local flood given that it says, "behold these which thine eyes are upon shall perish in the floods" which is a pretty localized group. One could turn to the later portion where Enoch adopts something like animism towards the earth but again that's not clear whether it's animism to the land he lives in or a globe (which is alien to the time and not claimed in the text).

The Noah text of Genesis is mostly left alone from what I can see.   (Which is interesting all on its own)

10 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

The point is that heavy borrowing is just one more reason to suspect we’re not getting historical translations from JS’ revelatory process.

Except that again the descriptions of revelation strongly suggest revelations come in reaction to pondering it out in your mind. The idea that you just ask and get a text is explicitly condemned. So to me this seems pretty problematic. And again, the breaks with Clarke are pretty significant in places.

 

10 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

One of the contemporary members launched an investigation and interviewed earlier members. He concluded that no one knew or had heard anything about angelic restoration of priesthood.

The MP restoration was of course controversial as it went against the more protestant "priesthood of all believers" that many early members were committed to. There is the 1832 mention of priesthood and angels, although that's admittedly vague. So the main rhetoric for MP restoration happens later in 1835. The main controversy, as I understand it (and please refer to the sources I'm missing if I'm misunderstanding you) is over more vague comments in the 1830's about Cowdery meeting with angels. Who are the angels? Apologists assume Peter, James and John but it's not explicit in those accounts. So something happened but it's not clear what. 

I assume it's David Whitmer you're talking about. I'd certainly agree it wasn't publicly taught. I'm not sure that implies in the least it was made up. Cowdery certainly later mentions things so those later (~5 years) discussions have to be dealt with. That then tends to get into conspiracy theories with Cowdery part of the fraud and conspiracy.

So from my perspective there were good reasons for the silence - it was pretty controversial doctrine. It doesn't seem that way to us because we're used to a more Catholic type hierarchy. However among Protestants of the era that's really hard to accept. Indeed as priesthood became taught many of these people fell away precisely because of the doctrine.

From my perspective this is again at best an argument from silence somewhat problematized by the vague references to angels between 1830 and 1833 along with Cowdery's explicit descriptions by 1835. One has to push a conspiracy theory with Cowdery to even make the theory work. Now if you're already committed to Cowdery being part of a conspiracy of fraud, that's no problem. If you're not then Cowdery remains a big problem for the theory.

10 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

It marries the two in a single vision given to Moses, and has God’s words bridging the would-be gap. 

I don't think that's correct. Moses 1 is the vision. It's published separately from the main translation and appears received separately from the main work of translation. All the contextual evidence suggests that the rest of Genesis to follow is not part of the vision in Moses 1. I'd say that Moses 1:42 also is explicitly ending the vision. Reading 42 as referring to the rest of Genesis seems deeply problematic.

10 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

There is an account of a visitor to Nauvoo whom JS showed the mummies and cuttings, and specifically said that one of the cuttings was written by the hand of Moses. That means JS would have gotten writings from Abraham, Joseph, and Moses all at once. Pretty lucky. Also when we talk about the potentially lost scroll do we take into account the writings of Joseph? Cause we didn’t lose two scrolls did we?

I think "by the hand of" refers to the translation not that the papyri was literally written by such figures. i.e. it just refers to textual content. Again especially in magic documents from the Roman period having references to Abraham, Joseph and Moses is pretty common. We know the papyri is from the Roman period so I confess I don't quite see the issue here. Now I think complaining about the missing papyri theory and the lack of Abraham etc. on the papyri is a valid complaint. Complaining that Moses may have been mentioned along with Abraham seems far less valid since if there was a missing papyri that wouldn't be unexpected. I know critics like to disparage the magic documents of the era but while I know little about Egyptology I am more familiar with broader Roman trends and this is pretty significant in the syncretic religious traditions of the era. Speaking broadly and not just about Egyptian texts. My understanding is that with greek magic texts of the era about ⅓ have references to Moses and Abraham. (Jews and Christians in Their Graeco-Roman Context, 272) One can I suppose debate how relevant the broader tradition is to the tradition still making formal use of Egyptian. However it does indicate the syncretic nature of beliefs in late antiquity.

10 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

Yes, he came across antiquities. So do we, nothing special there. The point is that the antiquities he did find were very unlikely to be as old as he claimed. Adam’s altar would have been nearly 6000 years old. Zelph would have been around 1.5 thousand years old. An actual text from Abraham would have to have been a couple more thousand years old than what JS claimed. 

I'm convinced Zelph is just an account of Joseph talking about the native Indians that got blown out of proportion. Lamanite by then was being applied to all native Americans. So to assume it refers to the Book of Mormon narrative seems dubious. Even if one accepts the additions as the tale was repeated, nothing says it was thousands of years old rather than a few centuries or so except the Kimball & Woodruff account. (He unlike everyone else appears to tie it to the final destruction of Nephites - although there is some vagueness even there). Kimball's account is problematic for various reasons including being 10 years after the fact. He has Joseph present whereas most others have Joseph absent. The other account tying it to Nephites is Woodruff writing 59 years later. That of course becomes deeply problematic textually. Again there are many elements in the Woodruff account, such as the steps, we know are false.

The expansion of the tale that made it into publication was by Williard Richards not Joseph (although given the ghost writing it like so much appeared to be as if from Joseph) Even Woodruff's account adds an important "probably" to the identification tying it to Nephites.While some might disagree, I find Godfrey's analysis quite good at suggesting there was less here than it appeared.

I certainly understand why this might be troubling to people. But given the lack of actually knowing what Joseph said and what was addition makes me see it as less significant.

10 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

I guess it depends on how tight the translation is. In the example I gave, God gives the Hebrew  names and translations. What would be there if JS hadn’t learned Hebrew? 

Probably some other name I'd presume. (I also tend to make a distinction between texts translated with the U&T/seer stone and later texts like the Book of Abraham. The method simply seems different so I'm not sure patterns in the former inform the latter.

Edited by clarkgoble

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14 minutes ago, Analytics said:

In your view, was the Garden of Eden in Missouri? Without a flood, how did the decedents of Adam get to the old world?

Walking to coast, following coast, taking boats across water, perhaps reverse island hopping like happened in The Book of the Hopi, who knows?  Not a question I'm particularly interested in.  I can surely speculate, though, Missouri being largely in a flood plain/drainage.  Why do you ask?

 

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57 minutes ago, smac97 said:

There are, of course, numerous proposed models of the geography of the Book of Mormon (Wikipedia's summary here is quite good).  But a lot of them have not really stood the test of time.  And there seems to be a coalescence around the Limited Geography / Mesoamerica model(s).  If plausibility, rather than definitive certainty, is the objective, then this seems pretty good.

I've been beating around the bush here for a few pages, so let me be less passive aggressive. I propose a model for Book of Mormon that is entirely plausible, even historically accurate.

I invite you to engage the evidence for Book of Mormon historicity based on the text itself. We will evaluate the text based on what is found in Skousen's: The Earliest Text, and any other texts that were available before 1830. No Zelph accounts, no Wentworth Letters, no general conference talks. No Sorenson or Meldrum. Just the Book of Mormon from 1 Nephi to Moroni.

 If you are willing to have a go, I'll create another thread.

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