Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Ryan Dahle

Why Not Engage the Evidence for Historicity?

Recommended Posts

9 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

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 don't think that follows. Or, put an other way, the unknown process could still be making use of Joseph's memories as well as other sources for the translation. So I think this is a false dichotomy given what we know. (Which is not to say Joseph's mind was involved just that we can't dismiss it based upon the evidence)

9 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

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.

This gets to the point I raised earlier - if one doubts then typically one needs strong evidence for the big picture. Clearly apologists don't have that just theories in the narrow areas. Even if apologists had a coherent detailed theory of translation I doubt it would convince anyone short of the "welcome to Zarahemla" sign I mentioned. Apologists can give reasons for the faithful to believe but I don't think they can really give people a reason to believe who don't already have good cause to believe that big picture. Thus the importance of personal revelation. My personal feeling is that apologetics is primarily of value to help people with those revelations to believe and not doubt their revelation. It shows why one can be rational and not irrational in ones belief. They just can't, given current evidence, do much more than that. (IMO)

17 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?

Speaking only for myself I don't know for sure but it seems as plausible as any other location. Joseph later said Noah was in the Carolinas and I tend to see the flood as local to that area. Most likely an extremely large hurricane which we know happens occasionally. Noah's then swept out of the Carolinas while the villagers there are wiped out. The Canary Current that breaks from the Gulf Current and goes near the Mediterranean would then get him to the ANE. The Noah account then through intertextuality gets corrupted by context with the Babylonian Gilgamesh accounts both in the pre-exilic period and most especially during the exile.

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
2 minutes ago, Analytics said:

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.

A conslusion, yes.  An assertion, yes.  But not argument.  No evaluation of the evidence.

Naturalistic assertions about what does or does not "fit into the real world" are presuppositional.  Or conclusory.  Or both.

Meanwhile, we're left with arguments about historicity.  About the text.  About the statements of the Witnesses.  Summarily declaring that these things don't "fit into the real world" doesn't advance the discussion.

2 minutes ago, Analytics said:

The Book of Mormon is fiction that is compatible with the views of a 19th Century young-earth creationist Christian.

Or it is an accurate translation of a genuine ancient manuscript.

2 minutes ago, Analytics said:

It isn't compatible with what we now know about reality. 

Yes, it is.  There are plenty of reasonable, well-educated, well-informed people who, having considered the Book of Mormon, have accepted it for what it claims to be.  We all acknowledge that this is principally and ultimately an exercise in faith.  But lots of things in life are predicated on things over and above "what we now know about reality."  

You are only proving Ryan's point.  You aren't addressing the evidence.  You are summarily dismissing the text without addressing the arguments in favor of its historicity.

2 minutes ago, Analytics said:

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.

Convenient, that.

It's also easier to mock and ignore the evidence because . . . well, it's easier than engaging the evidence, than presenting a coherent alternative explanation (for the text, for the Witnesses, etc.).

Twenty years ago an evangelical apologist named John Weldon took a similarly dismissive, glib, the-Mormons-are-obviously-so-out-of-whack-that-I-don't-even-have-to-address-their-scholarship-at-all approach to the Book of Mormon.  An evangelical scholar, Paul Owen, took him to the woodshed:

Quote

I note at the beginning of appendix 1 that Mr. Weldon writes: "The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) publishes literature in defense of Mormonism, especially the Book of Mormon ." This statement is a factual error, not in terms of what is stated, but what goes conspicuously unstated. As Carl Mosser and I have extensively documented, FARMS does far more than simply defend the Book of Mormon: They are actively engaged in "Ancient Research." They are not FMS; they are FARMS. Why is this important? Because, by ignoring FARMS involvement in the wider field of academic historical research, Mr. Weldon hides from his readers (most of whom probably have little exposure to FARMS) the fact that many of the scholars associated with this organization are respected experts in fields directly pertinent to LDS apologetic claims; fields such as Second Temple Judaism, Ancient Near Eastern literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls and Egyptology. By contrast, no researcher currently involved in apologetic responses to LDS scholarship has any acknowledged expertise in such areas. THIS IS A BIG PROBLEM, WHICH IS NOT GOING TO GO AWAY, NO MATTER HOW LONG WE HIDE OUR HEADS IN THE SAND. How on earth can our pastors, most of whom have at best a M.Div. level seminary training, be expected to give their flocks substantive replies to the FARMS literature which is increasingly being used in LDS proselytizing activities? How can our laypeople successfully convince their Mormon friends of the superior plausibility of the truth claims of orthodox Christianity when our researchers in the apologetics community have no better arguments to offer than: FARMS scholarship is obviously wrong, because we already know Mormonism is a false religion? Put yourself in the Mormon's shoes. Would you find that to be a convincing argument?

"FARMS scholarship is obviously wrong, because we already know Mormonism is a false religion" is functionally equivalent to what you are saying here.  So Mr. Owen's question is apt: "Put yourself in the Mormon's shoes. Would you find that to be a convincing argument?"

He goes on:

Quote

The heart of the problem is Mr. Weldon's refusal to seriously engage LDS scholarship; and this comes to the surface again under the heading Needless Concerns . Brother Weldon tells us: "But at another level, the alleged new evidence for Mormonism isn't impressive--and it never will be when it comes to defending the truth claims of Mormonism." The intellectual narrow-mindedness displayed here is astounding. Of course, such evidence will fail to convince Brother Weldon; but it sure does seem impressive to folks in the LDS Church! In case Brother Weldon has forgotten, THEY are the ones that we Christians are supposed to be talking to. THEY are the ones who need to be shown why FARMS scholarship does not establish the historical and theological truth claims of the Mormon religion. And they are sure as shootin' going to find FARMS scholarship a lot more "impressive" than the frighteningly lame argument: "In a similar fashion, Mormonism is so clearly false on doctrinal grounds, one need not worry their scholarship could ever prove much of anything." My goodness, does Brother Weldon realize how utterly pathetic that must sound to a Mormon's ears? Does he care?!

"The heart of the problem is Mr. Weldon's refusal to seriously engage LDS scholarship."  You post has the same problem.

"Utterly pathetic" does indeed come to mind when I read stuff like this.  Back in 1997, and today.

One more from Mr. Owen:

Quote

I find it highly revealing that Mr. Weldon makes two admissions with regard to the complaints raised by Carl Mosser and myself. He cites us to the following effect: "The authors [Ankerberg and Weldon] constantly belittle their opponents---always questioning either their intelligence or integrity." Notice Brother Weldon's admissions: "It's hardly that we constantly questioned the intelligence of all Mormons, but we did question the intelligence of Mormon leaders, apologists, writers, and scholars at points of defending Mormonism. Because we do not think it is intelligent to defend Mormonism." Also: "We did not constantly belittle our opponents, as Mosser and Owen charge, but it is true we did belittle them at places." Again, the intellectual arrogance displayed here is astounding. Since Mormonism is wrong, therefore, those who defend Mormonism are not intelligent. But once again, over 10 million perfectly intelligent people all over the world reject Mr. Weldon's premise: They don't agree that Mormonism is a false religion! And their scholars are defending their truth claims on historical grounds; whereas Brother Weldon would have us refuse to engage them on an intellectual level, and simply declare them unintelligent for defending what is assumed to be untrue. To quote again: "Frankly, this is our view of Mormon theology and apologetics. The truth about Mormon apologetics is that its scholarship in defense of Mormonism is unimportant and of little value." Who on earth does Mr. Weldon expect to convince with a question-begging, exclusion by definition employing, and I must say, thoroughly unchristian argument like that?! Was that the tactic used by St. Paul against the Jews? Was that the tactic used by Apologists like Irenaeus against the gnostics, and Justin against the pagan philosophers? Was that the way J. Gresham Machen and B. B. Warfield argued against German liberals? My goodness, I'm sure thankful that David didn't use that approach against Goliath! You Philistines are pagans, therefore Goliath is so obviously a powder-puff that I need not bother tossing any rocks at him. I'll just get back to minding my little flock of sheep.

"[T]heir scholars are defending their truth claims on historical grounds."  Yep.  And those grounds are being summarily dismissed without any effort to address them (such as by deriding them as equivalent to Flat-Earthism).

Brother Weldon is not the only one "refus[ing] to engage [Mormons] on an intellectual level."

Brother Weldon is not the only one "simply declar[ing] [Mormons] unintelligent for defending what is assumed to be untrue."

Of course, you have no obligation to engage Mormons on an intellectual level.  And you are free to simply declare Mormons to be unintelligent because they do not agree with you.

But you'll understand why such lazy dismissals are not going to be persuasive to those who are examining and engaging the evidence pertaining to the Book of Mormon (both pro and con).

Thanks,

-Smac

 

Share this post


Link to post
18 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

I'm convinced Zelph is just an account of Joseph talking about the native Indians that got blown out of proportion.

You reject then the evidences recently presented at FAIR that JSJr was observed doing a cursory examination of one character on the bogus plates, based entirely on the KEP?

Share this post


Link to post
29 minutes ago, Analytics said:

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.

Another thing is that it really doesn't matter. When you do engage, it just gets ignored. Ten years ago, it took me a few hours one evening to discover that John Clark's "points of convergence" fell apart upon any degree of scrutiny. I posted what I discovered here and elsewhere, and the response here was divided between crickets chirping and an acknowledgement that Clark himself no longer stands by the article. But here we are a decade later, and that article is still held up as evidence for the Book of Mormon. 

As you say, it doesn't how many interesting little tidbits people come up, as none of it outweighs the pretty compelling evidence (at least to you and me and most people who study these issues) that the Book of Mormon is 19th-century fiction. 

Edited by jkwilliams
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

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?
 

It's not that the Book of Mormon Geography of a limited geography is out of alignment according to the beliefs of some.  But I personally do not believe in a Mesomerican geography for Cumorah, only for the Land Southward.  Therefore, the issue of Geography itself in its entirety should never be allowed become official so that an official geography is never declared or adopted officially.  That is dangerous if something turns out to not be true, like how the Hemispherical Geography at one time was assumed to be official, but it cannot be true.  It should always be left in the realm of personal belief.  The only requirement that should be official, in my opinion, should be a belief in historicity, that it happened in the real world somewhere.

However, we should never make the officialness of historicity be something where people lose privileges in the Church for lack of belief in it.  The Mesoamerican Geography, while preferred by most, should never be allowed to become official.

Edited by EdGoble
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
4 minutes ago, USU78 said:

You reject then the evidences recently presented at FAIR that JSJr was observed doing a cursory examination of one character on the bogus plates, based entirely on the KEP?

Not sure what you're referring to. I know Don Bradley had done a presentation but that was on the Kinderhook plates not Zelph. I unfortunately am so busy that I don't get to go to many conferences. Usually if I do go to one it's the SMPT ones. I've never been to the FAIR conference unfortunately although I've wanted to go many times. Maybe when my kids are older.

Edited by clarkgoble
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
6 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

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.

Okay, I'm game.  But I'm not sure that approaching historicity exclusively through the text is necessary.  Primarily, yes, but not exclusively.

6 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

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.

Sure!

Thanks,

-Smac

Share this post


Link to post
4 minutes ago, USU78 said:

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?

 

Thanks. You had wondered why anybody bothers with a worldwide flood.

Share this post


Link to post
1 minute ago, clarkgoble said:

Not sure what you're referring to. I know Don Bradley had done a presentation but that was on the Kinderhook plates not Zelph.

Oops.  Yes, you are, of course, right.  Zelph is a muddle.

Share this post


Link to post
1 minute ago, Analytics said:

Thanks. You had wondered why anybody bothers with a worldwide flood.

I had in mind the evangelical offerings on the subject, including this:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation_Museum.  Not the Eden/Missouri issue.  Most folks we engage hereabouts are working from the assumption that Mormons are indistinguishable from Evangelicals on the issues of New Earth, Worldwide Flood, etc.

 

Share this post


Link to post
On 6/22/2018 at 10:58 AM, Ryan Dahle said:

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.

Trying to prove or disprove the Book of Mormon based on historical evidences is a losing game for both sides.  You believe you are right.  So do those who have long lists of evidence against historicity.  You'll do battle forever and never convince one another.

The Book of Mormon is a scriptural text.  I set aside the historicity question some time back -- it's not important.  I continue to study the Book of Mormon as scripture to see what it has to teach me through the Spirit, to let it bring me closer to Christ.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
12 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

Not sure what you're referring to. I know Don Bradley had done a presentation but that was on the Kinderhook plates not Zelph. I unfortunately am so busy that I don't get to go to many conferences. Usually if I do go to one it's the SMPT ones. I've never been to the FAIR conference unfortunately although I've wanted to go many times. Maybe when my kids are older.

https://www.fairmormon.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Don-Bradley-Kinderhook-President-Joseph-Has-Translated-a-Portion-1.pdf

He seems to refer to the Don Bradley presentation, where Don assumed that Joseph Smith referred to and took the KEP translations seriously enough to use as an "academic" way to "look up" one of the hieroglyphics on the bogus Kinderhook plates, and suggest a translation for the Kinderhook plates based on the KEP, rather than by revelation.  It is a convenient apologetic that suggests that Joseph did not receive revelation on something bogus, but that his translation in that case was academic.

The bigger elephant in the room for this however, is the idea that Joseph Smith took the KEP translation seriously to be able to "look up" a translation.  This in itself is evidence that Joseph Smith believed that the KEP translations were reliable enough to refer to for a translation of an apparent Egyptian-like character, but FAIR never seems to talk about that implication!  They are good with the idea, I suppose that Joseph Smith academically translated bogus plates instead of receiving revelation on them, but they stop there, not talking about the bigger implication for Joseph Smith's thoughts on the KEP itself.

Edited by EdGoble

Share this post


Link to post
2 minutes ago, rockpond said:

Trying to prove or disprove the Book of Mormon based on historical evidences is a losing game for both sides. 

I agree.  But I don't think the objective on the LDS side is to "prove."  The goal appears to corroborate, not establish in the first instance, the provenance of the Book of Mormon.

2 minutes ago, rockpond said:

You believe you are right.  So do those who have long lists of evidence against historicity.  You'll do battle forever and never convince one another.

I don't think the goal is to persuade the critics.  If their minds are made up, then we need to respect that.

Rather, I think the goal is to strengthen the faith of the members, and to present evidence of plausibility for those who are investigating the claims of the Church.  Accepting the Book of Mormon always has been, and always will be, primarily an exercise in faith.

2 minutes ago, rockpond said:

The Book of Mormon is a scriptural text.  I set aside the historicity question some time back -- it's not important. 

I think it's quite important.  As important as the historicity of Jesus Christ.

2 minutes ago, rockpond said:

I continue to study the Book of Mormon as scripture to see what it has to teach me through the Spirit, to let it bring me closer to Christ.

Sounds good.

Thanks,

-Smac

Share this post


Link to post
5 minutes ago, rockpond said:

Trying to prove or disprove the Book of Mormon based on historical evidences is a losing game for both sides.  You believe you are right.  So do those who have long lists of evidence against historicity.  You'll do battle forever and never convince one another.

The Book of Mormon is a scriptural text.  I set aside the historicity question some time back -- it's not important.  I continue to study the Book of Mormon as scripture to see what it has to teach me through the Spirit, to let it bring me closer to Christ.

I did that for 10 years or so. The common refrain is that people like me are looking for reasons not to believe, which makes no sense to me at all. Even after I concluded the Book of Mormon wasn't a translation of an ancient text, it didn't much matter. It was inspired scripture, and that's how it spoke to me. 

Share this post


Link to post
17 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:
9 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

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 don't think that follows. Or, put an other way, the unknown process could still be making use of Joseph's memories as well as other sources for the translation. So I think this is a false dichotomy given what we know. (Which is not to say Joseph's mind was involved just that we can't dismiss it based upon the evidence)

I wasn't clear enough, and I agree with you. What I meant was simply that a tight control model means that Joseph wasn't responsible for choosing the language of the text; another agent was choosing the lexicon and syntax, even if this was partly derived from Joseph Smith's own thinking or language patterns. However, I don't think there is any good evidence to conclude that the divine agent(s) responsible for the text drew upon Joseph's particular implicit linguistic or theological knowledge in any significant or notable way. 

Share this post


Link to post
9 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

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.

 

9 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

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.

OK guys, you win! I take back my comments on the translator fixing directions, etc. I have no experience in that field.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

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.

http://egyptianalphabetandgrammar.blogspot.com/2017/04/katumin-princess-royal-female-lineage.html

Interestingly, I will offer up here that KT is a pronunciation for Uraeus in Egyptian, and the name Katumin is spelled out in the Book of the Dead papyrus in the characters referred to that Joseph Smith is translating.  The Uraeus, the emblem of Female Royal Authority and lineage, is the character that Joseph Smith was translating here for Katumin.

Share this post


Link to post
24 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I wasn't clear enough, and I agree with you. What I meant was simply that a tight control model means that Joseph wasn't responsible for choosing the language of the text; another agent was choosing the lexicon and syntax, even if this was partly derived from Joseph Smith's own thinking or language patterns. However, I don't think there is any good evidence to conclude that the divine agent(s) responsible for the text drew upon Joseph's particular implicit linguistic or theological knowledge in any significant or notable way. 

I think the main counter-argument is D&C 9 and the "took no thought save it was to ask me." If the process didn't involve Joseph's will or thought, then wouldn't it be purely mechanical? Yet D&C 9 (admittedly relative to Harris) seems to reject the mechanical process. It could easily be that Joseph had to ponder so that the unknown process could access his thought and make use of it in some fashion. Now the arguments against this hinge upon the differences from Harris' attempt and how Joseph proceeded. But I think they raise some good problems.

34 minutes ago, EdGoble said:

https://www.fairmormon.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Don-Bradley-Kinderhook-President-Joseph-Has-Translated-a-Portion-1.pdfHe seems to refer to the Don Bradley presentation, where Don assumed that Joseph Smith referred to and took the KEP translations seriously enough to use as an "academic" way to "look up" one of the hieroglyphics on the bogus Kinderhook plates, and suggest a translation for the Kinderhook plates based on the KEP, rather than by revelation.  It is a convenient apologetic that suggests that Joseph did not receive revelation on something bogus, but that his translation in that case was academic.

I'm not sure what you mean by convenient apologetic. I think Don makes a compelling point that Joseph is attempting to work backwards. Whether this was part of studying it out in his mind to catalyze revelation or something else isn't clear. The lack of a translation of the Kinderhook plates is significant though. (Again none of this relates to Zelph)

34 minutes ago, EdGoble said:

The bigger elephant in the room for this however, is the idea that Joseph Smith took the KEP translation seriously to be able to "look up" a translation.  This in itself is evidence that Joseph Smith believed that the KEP translations were reliable enough to refer to for a translation of an apparent Egyptian-like character, but FAIR never seems to talk about that implication!  They are good with the idea, I suppose that Joseph Smith academically translated bogus plates instead of receiving revelation on them, but they stop there, not talking about the bigger implication for Joseph Smith's thoughts on the KEP itself.

I'm not sure that follows. But clearly it was part of his project and he likely was curious if the Kinderhook characters were in his repository. (Going by vague memory I think he thought they related to the Book of Mormon as well as the papyri) How successful Joseph and his companions thought the work was though seems difficult to establish. I'm not sure he's accessing it there in this case demonstrates much other than he thought it might be useful or even help him determine if the KEP were reliable.

Edited by clarkgoble

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours 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.

I think we'll be surprised to find what is and isn't "negotiable" over the next few decades.

And for the record, it's a little disingenuous to chalk up beliefs in "young-earth creationism" and the "global flood" to "Rod Meldrum types."  Certainly, Young-Earth Creationism has fallen out of fashion in the Church,  but the leaders and scriptures are still all-in on the global flood.  It would be just as correct to call them "Joseph Fielding Smith types" or "Russell M. Nelson types."

I would also suggest that, to the degree you would argue that a belief in a local or allegorical flood is somehow accepted or tolerated in the Church, you are foreshadowing the same pattern and thought processes that will be used to create space and acceptance for an allegorical or non-historical belief in The Book of Mormon.  As you show, the first thing to do will be to get people to think that Book of Mormon historicity isn't "central to our religion."

Or maybe not.  Honestly, if the Church were to diminish over the next few decades and find itself with < 1 million members mostly centered in Utah, I would guess it's because of the Church's stance on issues like homosexuality, not a literal belief in the Book of Mormon.

 

Edited by cinepro
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
48 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

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.

2

I guess we can't be sure which way the process went, at least according to current scholarship. I'll give you that. However, there is a specific text paired with hieratic, and it is purported to be a "translation." Dan Vogel did recently demonstrate some strong connections between the GAEL and the Kitumin document, so there is probably some relevant scholarship there. More significantly, he has shown that the GAEL work predates the BOA translation. That's in his most recent BOA videos. Definitely worth checking out.

48 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

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.

 

It's been years since I read on this. You'll have to find some sources. Basically, it's a copy of proceedings from a school of the prophets meeting prior to Seixas instruction. There are two copies of the document. That's what I know off the top of my head.

48 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

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.

4

Fair. I'll give up on that one.

48 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

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.

 

The way the vision is reported in multiple accounts has them going to the NY Cumorah, and then you have later account(s?) saying that plates are in a cave in a hill in NY from contemporaries.

48 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

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.

2

Maybe I'm mistaken, but I believe all of the book of Moses is a vision that Moses has, and is essentially an explanation of how Genesis originated with Moses. Chapter 2 starts off explaining that what follows is God's account to Moses of the creation, and I assumed that what follows fell into the same category. Unless there is an indication in the text that there is a break from God's message to Moses, I think the text reads as a continuous visionary or revelatory experience Moses is having.

 

48 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

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)

 

In terms of global flood, I was thinking of chapter 7, that strongly infers global flood. Verse 45 says Enoch saw, "and from Noah, he beheld all the familes of the earth", 49 infers that the "children of Noah" are the inhabitants of the earth, and 50 says, "that the earth might never more be covered by the floods."

48 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

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.

1

It's fine. I'll give you that this type of nuance should definitely be allowed when we discuss revelation.

48 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

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.

3

It's not just David Whitmer. I believe it's one of the then apostles that launches the investigation. I think it was Dan Vogel's video on priesthood restoration where I first came across it. And yes, Oliver Cowdery does need to be in on the evolution. Though perhaps we're seeing experiences being reinterpreted or even expanded on via revelation. It's hard to say and all very murky.

48 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

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.

1

I don't really think the controversy argument holds up here very well though. JS was already persecuted, and already translating a "gold bible." At least telling the insiders about the angels would have been normal procedure, similar to insiders having more experience with the actual translation method of the BOM.  

48 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

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.

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.

3

See my comments on Moses 2 and forward above.

Gotta run. I'll debate some more later. Good times!

 

Share this post


Link to post
12 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

 I'd just note that in uncontested ancient history in the ANE that happens a lot when texts are vague. If Moroni didn't explicitly state where things took place to Joseph then we should expect differing theories especially given the limited data on hand in 1820-1845.

What makes you think Moroni didn't explicitly state where things took place?

Quote

I was also informed concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country and shown who they were, and from whence they came; a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws, governments, of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being finally withdrawn from them as a people, was made known unto me; I was also told where were deposited some plates on which were engraven an abridgment of the records of the ancient prophets that had existed on this continent. The angel appeared to me three times the same night and unfolded the same things.

- Joseph Smith

http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/church-history-1-march-1842/2

 

Edited by cinepro

Share this post


Link to post
17 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

I think the main counter-argument is D&C 9 and the "took no thought save it was to ask me." If the process didn't involve Joseph's will or thought, then wouldn't it be purely mechanical? Yet D&C 9 (admittedly relative to Harris) seems to reject the mechanical process. It could easily be that Joseph had to ponder so that the unknown process could access his thought and make use of it in some fashion. Now the arguments against this hinge upon the differences from Harris' attempt and how Joseph proceeded. But I think they raise some good problems.

This could have been about whether Oliver was allowed to take Joseph's place.

See this article by Stan Spencer.

It's unlikely the dictation would have proceeded as it did, and that the original manuscript would look like it does, if the process had been a matter of Joseph querying the Lord repeatedly whether his wording was accurate.

Edited by champatsch

Share this post


Link to post
7 minutes ago, cinepro said:

What makes you think Moroni didn't explicitly state where things took place?

To be fair, whatever Moroni told Joseph Smith (assuming there was a Moroni), the specifics were never transmitted to the rest of us. Reminds me of the old Chavo del Ocho routine, where El Chavo tells a man he will reveal another person's location if he gives him money. After the money changes hands, the man asks where the person is, and Chavo replies "en la Republica de Mexico." 

Share this post


Link to post
4 minutes ago, cinepro said:

I think we'll be surprised to find what is and isn't "negotiable" over the next few decades.

And for the record, it's a little disingenuous to chalk up beliefs in "young-earth creationism" and the "global flood" to "Rod Meldrum types."  Certainly, Young-Earth Creationism has fallen out of fashion in the Church,  but the leaders and scriptures are still all-in on the global flood.  It would be just as correct to call them "Joseph Fielding Smith types."

The Encyclopedia of Mormonism has this to say about the Flood:

Quote

THE GREAT FLOOD. The Old Testament records a flood that was just over fifteen cubits (sometimes assumed to be about twenty-six feet) deep and covered the entire landscape: "And all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered" (Gen. 7:19). Scientifically this account leaves many questions unanswered, especially how a measurable depth could cover mountains. Elder John A. Widtsoe, writing in 1943, offered this perspective: The fact remains that the exact nature of the flood is not known. We set up assumptions, based upon our best knowledge, but can go no further. We should remember that when inspired writers deal with historical incidents they relate that which they have seen or that which may have been told them, unless indeed the past is opened to them by revelation.

The details in the story of the flood are undoubtedly drawn from the experiences of the writer. Under a downpour of rain, likened to the opening of the heavens, a destructive torrent twenty-six feet deep or deeper would easily be formed. The writer of Genesis made a faithful report of the facts known to him concerning the flood. In other localities the depth of the water might have been more or less. In fact, the details of the flood are not known to us [Widtsoe, p. 127].

I don't think the scope of the flood is a critical part of LDS doctrine.  Plenty of room for reasonable minds to disagree.

4 minutes ago, cinepro said:

I would also suggest that, to the degree you would argue that a belief in a local or allegorical flood is somehow accepted or tolerated in the Church, you are foreshadowing the same pattern and thought processes that will be used to create space and acceptance for an allegorical or non-historical belief in The Book of Mormon.  As you show, the first thing to do will be to get people to think that Book of Mormon historicity isn't "central to our religion."

I don't see much movement that way.  To the contrary, publications like Historicity and the Latter-day Saint Scriptures suggest the Church holding fast to a position that presumes historicity.

4 minutes ago, cinepro said:

Or maybe not.  Honestly, if the Church were to diminish over the next few decades and find itself with < 1 million members mostly centered in Utah, I would guess it's because of the Church's stance on issues like homosexuality, not a literal belief in the Book of Mormon.

I agree with you (that other issues will be more important).

Thanks,

-Smac

Share this post


Link to post
17 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

Dan Vogel did recently demonstrate some strong connections between the GAEL and the Kitumin document, so there is probably some relevant scholarship there. More significantly, he has shown that the GAEL work predates the BOA translation. That's in his most recent BOA videos. Definitely worth checking out.

I wish Dan would just get a blog and post these things with references. Video is a horrible format for this. It makes it near impossible to reference and I just don't have time to play video as opposed to quickly skimming a text and then reading carefully where the core new things are.  Unfortunately I just don't have time to peruse dozens of videos. Not a knock on you - just a recognition of limited time where I try to fit in studying. I'd love to glance over Dan's stuff but just don't have the ability to go through videos easily.

19 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

The way the vision is reported in multiple accounts has them going to the NY Cumorah, and then you have later account(s?) saying that plates are in a cave in a hill in NY from contemporaries.

The texts I'm familiar with seem pretty vague about location. NY is a possible inference but I'm skeptical. I'll check them out again though.

21 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

Maybe I'm mistaken, but I believe all of the book of Moses is a vision that Moses has, and is essentially an explanation of how Genesis originated with Moses. Chapter 2 starts off explaining that what follows is God's account to Moses of the creation, and I assumed that what follows fell into the same category. Unless there is an indication in the text that there is a break from God's message to Moses, I think the text reads as a continuous visionary or revelatory experience Moses is having.

Right, that's what I'm disagreeing with. Prior to starting the translation work he gets the revelation that is now Moses 1. But it wasn't associated with the main body of translation until it was compiled in the Pearl of Great Price long after Joseph's death. It was published separately and wasn't on the same book as the translation of Genesis 1 onward. As I said the final verse strongly appears to be referring to the vision not to our Geneses 1-7. It just appears connected due to the way Moses was compiled by Orson Pratt.

I don't want to say there aren't arguments to tie it to Genesis 1. I've just not seen one that doesn't depend upon it's more accidental location in the Pearl of Great Price.

27 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

In terms of global flood, I was thinking of chapter 7, that strongly infers global flood. Verse 45 says Enoch saw, "and from Noah, he beheld all the familes of the earth", 49 infers that the "children of Noah" are the inhabitants of the earth, and 50 says, "that the earth might never more be covered by the floods."

But if earth is eratz then that's problematic reading it as global. Admittedly in Moses 7 we're dealing with Joseph's expansion and not minor modifications to Genesis. So one could argue that earth would mean how Joseph would take it meaning global. However this gets into the issue of word choice in Joseph. If revelations are real and not to be interpreted purely in terms of Joseph's understanding, then I'm not sure this can be taken for granted.

Don't get me wrong I completely understand why some will take earth as global based upon Moses 7. However that makes a lot of assumptions about what earth means. Outside of that word there's nothing in the text suggesting a global flood. (Unlike say Genesis 6-7 where the covering of the mountains strongly implies it) If we read earth as land then the problems disappear. So I'm not arguing Moses 7 can't be read globally. Heaven knows historically most Mormons did read it in that way. Just that I think it's too ambiguous to be a reason to distrust Joseph since scientifically there was no global flood.

32 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

It's not just David Whitmer. I believe it's one of the then apostles that launches the investigation. I think it was Dan Vogel's video on priesthood restoration where I first came across it. And yes, Oliver Cowdery does need to be in on the evolution. Though perhaps we're seeing experiences being reinterpreted or even expanded on via revelation. It's hard to say and all very murky.

I don't really think the controversy argument holds up here very well though. JS was already persecuted, and already translating a "gold bible." At least telling the insiders about the angels would have been normal procedure, similar to insiders having more experience with the actual translation method of the BOM.  

I'll check later to see if I can google something on it. Again my main objection is that we know the key early Mormons had lack of Catholic like priesthood as a huge deal. Indeed that ends up being a key reason why they abandon Joseph. So I can completely understand Joseph not going into details yet. The issue isn't whether Joseph was controversial and persecuted. The issue is what Joseph thought his followers were (as yet) prepared to accept. I'd add that I think we get something similar with polygamy and Fanny Algers. So assuming he could just teach it openly goes against I think what we know of Joseph. He appears quite willing to keep somethings to himself. Later he makes the quasi-Masonic claim that he gets revelations because he's willing to keep a secret suggesting that he kept many doctrines to himself. Nauvoo makes that clear too.

I'll try to find the references you mention. Alas while I'll try to make time for Dan's videos I doubt I can really watch them reliably.

Share this post


Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...