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CA Steve

The textual transmission of the Book of Abraham.

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3 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

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

Great response, but there is one problem. These other scripture are the same scriptures that the church defines as the word of God "as far as they are translated correctly". Given that Joseph, in the case of a catalyst theory, is getting the Book of Abraham directly from God wouldn't it be a safe bet to assume it is being translated correctly?

The phrase "translated correctly" also means "transmitted correctly," so that there are dual considerations.  Translation of biblical texts includes translation, copying, and updating of older languages.  For example, none of the Primeval History in Genesis would have been available in Hebrew at the outset.  It is already millennia old when being transmitted within Classical Hebrew, and when being translated into LXX Greek by Jewish scholars (3rd century BC).  Then come multiple versions and multiple understandings in other languages including English.  All translated and transmitted by flawed humans.

The BofM includes all the old languages, along with Mesopotamian Jaredite records being translated and edited into Nephite (Hebrew & Egyptian usage required).  None are "directly from God," though that is a common assumption. All communication from God is done according to the linguistic frailties of humans (2 Ne 31:3, D&C 1:24).

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1 hour ago, CA Steve said:

Robert,

I am surprised you would quote Christopher Woods as a supportive source for Olishem being identified as Ulishim. Here is a more extensive quote from page 74 in which it is clear Woods is arguing against identifying Oleshem with Ulishim.

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Similarly, at Haran - which figures prominently in Abraham's journey and in the vicinity of which Ur has been sought - virtually all of the evidence for the practice of religion prior to the Persian conquest involves the worship of the mood god Sin. There is no evidence for the regular worship of the Egyptian gods at Haran or,, for that matter, at any other location in northern Mesopotamia. An Old Babylonian copy of an inscription of the Sargonic ruler Narram-Sin (c. 2190-2154 BC) mentions a place Ulishim which much have been roughly in the area of Elba, west of the Euphrates and far west of Haran. Certainly, Ulishim could be superficially linked on phonetic grounds to the Olishem mentioned in the Book of Abraham in connection with the location of "Ur of Chaldea," where Abraham's kin are said to have turned to the worship of the Egyptian gods and Egyptian sacrificial rites. But a convincing identification would have to be  based on much more substantial evidence. As stressed above, everything we know about the region during the period in question - not to mention the likely location of Biblical Ur in southern Mesopotamia - speaks strongly against it. That the phonetic similarity is accidental (and here it should be pointed out that cuneiform sources attest thousands of place names) is again suggested by its coupling to the place "Potiphar's Hill" which likewise is said to be in the land of Ur. Potiphar, of course, is the Egyptian official to whom Joseph is sold in Genesis (37:36,39:1)- the name Potiphar, of course is Egyptian in derivation and has no place linguistically or culturally in the toponymy of southern or northern Mesopotamia. Finally, it must be observed that the identification of Ulishim with an Olishem alleged to be in the area of Ur makes little geographical sense within the context of Abraham's travels from Ur to Haran and subsequently to Canaan as described in Genesis and the Book of Abraham itself - for Ulishim no doubt lay west of Haran and so the latter could in no conceivable way be considered to be en route from Ulishim to Canaan, Haran being diametrically in the wrong direction.

 

Scholars make a practice of quoting sources which disagree with them.  Non-scholars cannot understand that, since they read only one side of the debate.  I deliberately sent others to Woods' so that they can see his version of the facts. Why would that surprise you?

If you were conversant with the issue, you would notice something odd about Woods' arguments:  First, he correctly places Ulishim "roughly in the area of Elba [Ebla], west of the Euphrates and far west of Haran," which is not on the route from Ur to Haran, nor from Haran to Canaan.  Do you see the immediate flaw in his argument?  The BofA text says nothing about being en route from Ur to Haran, and from Haran to Canaan at the time of the sacrifice.  Woods invents the flaw.  He no doubt does that also to make the irrelevant claim that the Egyptians did not have influence in those areas.  Yet the BofA text makes no such claim.  Their influence was far west of Haran, just as Woods admits Ulishim should be.  Moreover, Woods deliberately makes the old, traditional claim that Ur can only be in southern Mesopotamia -- even though no scholar thinks that the only choice.  Indeed, the late Ephraim Speiser stated unequivocally that 

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The one fact beyond serious dispute is that the home of the patriarchs was in the district of Haran, and not in Ur.  According to xii 1 and 5, Haran was Abraham’s birthplace.  The toponymic models for the names of Abraham’s close relatives have been found in Central Mesopotamia (see above).  And the cultural background of many of the later patriarchal narratives is intimately tied up with the Hurrians of Haran and the regions nearby rather than with the Sumerians and Babylonians in the south.  Thus Ur proves to be intrusive in this context, however old that intrusion may have been.[1]

[1] E. Speiser, Genesis, Anchor Bible 1 (Doubleday, 1964), 80.

Cyrus H. Gordon identified Abraham's Ur of the Chaldees as Ura, north-northeast of Harran, or Urfa/Edessa (Syriac Orhai), northwest of Harran (in southern Turkey).[1]  Abraham sent his servant back to the land of his birth (Ur) to find a wife for Isaac, i.e., to Laban in Paddan-Aram (Genesis 24:4, 10, 28:2-7, 35:9 = Aram-Naharaim).  His grandson Jacob also went to Laban for a wife, and later crossed the Euphrates to get back to Canaan (Genesis 31:21), something unnecessary, if he were coming from southern Ur in Iraq a thousand miles away -- already on the west bank of the river.[2]

[1] Gordon, JNES, 17 (1958):28; Gordon, "Abraham of Ur," in Hebrew and Semitic Studies: G. R. Driver Festschrift (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), 77-84; Gordon, "Where is Abraham's Ur?" BAR, 3/2 (June 1977):20.  See also H. W. F. Saggs, "Ur of the Chaldees: A Problem of Identification," Iraq, 22 (1960):200-209; E. A. Speiser, Genesis, Anchor Bible 1 (1964), 78, 80-81.

[2] H. Shanks, "Abraham's Ur: Is the Pope Going to the Wrong Place," BAR, 26/1 (Jan-Feb 2000):18-19, 66-67.

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2 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

He went on Dehlin's Mormon Stories to talk about it. There were rumors about it when he took the job at the prison. Apparently gay issues were the final straw for him partially because his daughter was gay, although he'd already largely embraced a more fictional model of most scripture IMO.

Is he a prison chaplain?

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2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Is he a prison chaplain?

No he's in charge of education there. I forget the exact title. I'd have to check, but I think he took the job when his testimony was having troubles and to avoid conflicts of interest at BYU. I'll give him credit for that degree of integrity. Not everyone would do that.

3 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

You yourself spoke of the heavily redacted texts, and pointed to Bokovoy's introduction.  Surely you understand that all Scripture is a continuous redaction through time of older traditions put in new skin.  All prophets merely restate older directives and traditions.  God always speaks to his prophets in standard patterns, just as he uses repeated ordinances and liturgy.  There is literally nothing new under the sun.  The Gospel is as old as humanity.

The catalyst theory is nonsense and completely unnecessary.  The Bible and Book of Mormon are heavily redacted documents, as is the BofA.  Why would it be any different?

I'd agree although I'd again distinguish between catalyst-like expansions ala the JST and a pure catalyst theory.

3 hours ago, CA Steve said:

Great response, but there is one problem. These other scripture are the same scriptures that the church defines as the word of God "as far as they are translated correctly". Given that Joseph, in the case of a catalyst theory, is getting the Book of Abraham directly from God wouldn't it be a safe bet to assume it is being translated correctly?

I think Robert made all the points I would have. I think one has to keep in mind Joseph's expansive use of the word "translate." It includes for instance the Enoch material in the Book of Moses not to mention Moses 1. D&C 7 was described as a translation. (See the JSP historical background) It was part of the work of translation and appears to be an interrogation of the text of John 21:20-23 by way of the Urim and Thummim. (I assume that's the seer stone by that time) That's precisely the phenomena I'm suggesting transpired with the Egyptian work. If it's asking questions and getting answers (particularly by way of U&T like devices) then we're simply not dealing with a normal textual translation. We may have a large measure of intertextuality at work. Further unlike John, where it's clear how the interrogation is going, since Joseph can't read Egyptian he can't know the relationship between his text and the papyri.

Really the only question is how much of that we have at play. I'm not sure we have a way of knowing that, beyond the fact that the papyri we do have extant has nothing to do with Abraham. 

Edited by clarkgoble
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On 12/27/2018 at 3:32 PM, Robert F. Smith said:

Bokovoy is a brilliant biblical scholar, but knows nothing of modern Egyptology.

His earlier drafts discussed the papyri a bit more, largely appealing to Ritner. I had it mostly cut to minimize others using it as a red herring to avoid his much stronger arguments based on the text itself.

 

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On 12/25/2018 at 4:27 PM, CA Steve said:

The "missing scroll" theory implies that if we were to find those parts that were missing they would contain the Book of Abraham. I mean, why bother to argue the missing scroll theory if you adhere to the "catalyst theory"? Or, why bother to argue the missing scroll theory if you don't believe it would provide evidence that the Book of Abraham was actually on the missing parts? But Barney appears to throw a wrench into the missing scroll theory here, that is, if one believes the missing section actually contained the Book of Abraham. If Barney is right, how could an exact copy of the original autograph have survived that long? And, if it didn't then is the Book of Abraham really his actual writings?

IMO, even if the writings of (or pseudepigraphical writings of) Abraham continued to exist some 2000-4000 years until the 19th century, the improbability of those writings ending up in Joseph's hands is just too exponentially high. Sure, with God all things might be possible, but just imagine how much intervention and elimination of free will would have been required for these seemingly one-of-a-kind and utmost important writings to be preserved, discovered, bought, sold, displayed, etc and end up in Kirtland in 1835--especially when Joseph had already shown with the BofM, Moses, and John's parchment that a physical text was unnecessary. An application of Okham's razor here seems useful.

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1 hour ago, the narrator said:

His earlier drafts discussed the papyri a bit more, largely appealing to Ritner. I had it mostly cut to minimize others using it as a red herring to avoid his much stronger arguments based on the text itself.

Perhaps a wise move.  However, the problem with not seeing that two Egyptian documents (BofM and BofA) are both autobiographical and therefore fully in line with the common Egyptian genre of autobiography is a large mistake.  Simply commenting that the Bible is not autobiographical is to miss the point entirely.

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10 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

However, the problem with not seeing that two Egyptian documents (BofM and BofA) are both autobiographical and therefore fully in line with the common Egyptian genre of autobiography is a large mistake.

Perhaps, but those, as well as the John parchment (and an implied urtext of Moses) are all fully in line with the common genre of lost manuscript autobiography, with Joseph being the common denominator.

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1 hour ago, the narrator said:

Perhaps, but those, as well as the John parchment (and an implied urtext of Moses) are all fully in line with the common genre of lost manuscript autobiography, with Joseph being the common denominator.

This does seem right and in both cases (Moses 1, D&C 7) the text is received via a catalyst like inquiry. 

I do think that a full text transmitted without error ending up in a mummy that reaches Joseph is questionable. However a very corrupt fragment getting adopted into funerary texts at the time of the democratization of resurrection and syncretic influences from a diaspora of Jewish magic texts seems more plausible. We know that happened in the Roman era. While I'm more ignorant of the Egyptian stuff, it seems the big problem with this thesis is that influence in Egypt in the Ptolemaic era largely went the other direction. There was syncretic elements in earlier centuries injecting say Canaanite ideas and pantheon into Egypt, but not so much Greek and Roman injection. So the influence would likely be pre-Ptolemaic and would at best exist in a very corrupt form. (In keeping with the funerary use of magic spells) To me the thesis of a complete Abrahamic text attached to a book of breathings seems questionable. Even ignoring the length issues.

1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Perhaps a wise move.  However, the problem with not seeing that two Egyptian documents (BofM and BofA) are both autobiographical and therefore fully in line with the common Egyptian genre of autobiography is a large mistake.  Simply commenting that the Bible is not autobiographical is to miss the point entirely.

This seems fair, although again I think it misses the question of what an autobiographical Abraham text would be doing with funerary texts. Again I think having Judaic spells tied to such texts especially in the 1st century makes a lot of sense. I just don't know if such syncretic works were common in 1st century Thebes the way they were in say Rome of the same era.

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27 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

This does seem right and in both cases (Moses 1, D&C 7) the text is received via a catalyst like inquiry. 

Nearly all LDS revelations come in response to inquiries.  However, that does not mean that the Book of Mormon Plates or Book of Abraham Papyri are to be ignored as otiose.  Translating ancient documents is just not the same as receiving direction on doctrinal questions.  It strikes me that the modus operandi is quite different.

27 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

I do think that a full text transmitted without error ending up in a mummy that reaches Joseph is questionable. However a very corrupt fragment getting adopted into funerary texts at the time of the democratization of resurrection and syncretic influences from a diaspora of Jewish magic texts seems more plausible. We know that happened in the Roman era. While I'm more ignorant of the Egyptian stuff, it seems the big problem with this thesis is that influence in Egypt in the Ptolemaic era largely went the other direction. There was syncretic elements in earlier centuries injecting say Canaanite ideas and pantheon into Egypt, but not so much Greek and Roman injection. So the influence would likely be pre-Ptolemaic and would at best exist in a very corrupt form. (In keeping with the funerary use of magic spells) To me the thesis of a complete Abrahamic text attached to a book of breathings seems questionable. Even ignoring the length issues.

This seems fair, although again I think it misses the question of what an autobiographical Abraham text would be doing with funerary texts. Again I think having Judaic spells tied to such texts especially in the 1st century makes a lot of sense. I just don't know if such syncretic works were common in 1st century Thebes the way they were in say Rome of the same era.

 The late Wesley P. Walters questioned the possibility of very archaic texts being recopied and placed with or attached to late documents.  Yet, as A. Szczudlowska’s study makes clear, during New Kingdom and even Roman times, texts of the Old Kingdom were recopied and attached to copies of the Book of the Dead spells, e.g., BD 112, 128, 178, etc.  Pyramid Texts were even copied on coffin lids in the Saitic period and later.  Miriam Lichtheim provides another example in noting that the hieroglyphic Book of the Dead Papyrus of Tentruty (Papyrus Berlin 3008 of the Ptolemaic period) contained a hieratic appendix of “The Lamentations of Isis and Nephthys,” which was “adapted to the use of an individual person.”  Ed Ashment correctly makes the point that Egyptian Magical Papyrus 8.8, which contains the name Abraham (ABRAHME/ABRACAM), “seems to have been used as a magical representational device in connection with certain magical spells.”  In another case, found in 1896 in the Middle Kingdom Theban tomb of a lector-priest, were three magical papyri “which were written on the back of old military dispatches.”  Indeed, “John Gee estimates that about 40% of known Sensen (Breathing) texts have other texts attached to them.”  Just so, papyri (such as the Westcar Papyrus [Papyrus Berlin 3033]) were applied to a variety of contexts, and were simply reused when necessary!  These are all normal, everyday phenomena. (citations on request)

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40 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Nearly all LDS revelations come in response to inquiries.  However, that does not mean that the Book of Mormon Plates or Book of Abraham Papyri are to be ignored as otiose.  Translating ancient documents is just not the same as receiving direction on doctrinal questions.  It strikes me that the modus operandi is quite different.

Again while I think that's true for say Bokovoy's pure catalyst theory, that's not what I'm addressing. After all both Moses 1 and D&C 7 were new texts received during the interrogation of other texts. That is there is an original text producing the new text.

40 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The late Wesley P. Walters questioned the possibility of very archaic texts being recopied and placed with or attached to late documents.  Yet, as A. Szczudlowska’s study makes clear, during New Kingdom and even Roman times, texts of the Old Kingdom were recopied and attached to copies of the Book of the Dead spells, e.g., BD 112, 128, 178, etc.  Pyramid Texts were even copied on coffin lids in the Saitic period and later.  Miriam Lichtheim provides another example in noting that the hieroglyphic Book of the Dead Papyrus of Tentruty (Papyrus Berlin 3008 of the Ptolemaic period) contained a hieratic appendix of “The Lamentations of Isis and Nephthys,” which was “adapted to the use of an individual person.”  Ed Ashment correctly makes the point that Egyptian Magical Papyrus 8.8, which contains the name Abraham (ABRAHME/ABRACAM), “seems to have been used as a magical representational device in connection with certain magical spells.”  In another case, found in 1896 in the Middle Kingdom Theban tomb of a lector-priest, were three magical papyri “which were written on the back of old military dispatches.”  Indeed, “John Gee estimates that about 40% of known Sensen (Breathing) texts have other texts attached to them.”  Just so, papyri (such as the Westcar Papyrus [Papyrus Berlin 3033]) were applied to a variety of contexts, and were simply reused when necessary!  These are all normal, everyday phenomena. (citations on request)

My point wasn't that there weren't things attached to book of the dead or related funerary texts. Rather the point was the nature of syncretic texts. Again, I'm far, far from well versed on things Egyptian. However my understanding is that there are no examples of an thoroughgoing Jewish text attached to Egyptian funerary texts. Even the magic papyri that's syncretic (fairly common as I said in the Roman region during the 1st century) isn't attached to a book of breathings or similar funerary arrangements. Also the key issue is that during the period in question, the Ptolemaic era, Egypt was far less syncretic than in earlier eras. So the issue isn't whether a book of breathing was apt to have other texts. Rather the issue is having an uniquely Jewish historical narrative attached. 

The key issue is that our Book of Abraham seems completely untied to a funerary context. So this is more a critique of the pure missing text theory.

Now if one raises the possibility of some highly corrupt and perhaps fragmentary text about Abraham that makes sense in a funerary context then things change. Say something like a gnostic ascent syncretic with Egyptian and Jewish themes and figures. The second half of say the Apocalypse of Abraham would make sense for instance. The problem is that we don't have any examples of that in Egypt - especially in the Thebes region.

So of course I'm completely open to evidence along these lines. It's just missing at the moment. Further this line of reasoning as I see it points much more to the hybrid theory of corrupt fragmentary text + catalyst.

Edited by clarkgoble

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I am partial to the catalyst theory since it is consistent with the way Joseph translated  both the Book of Mormon and Bible.  

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Posted (edited)
On 1/2/2019 at 12:16 PM, clarkgoble said:

Again while I think that's true for say Bokovoy's pure catalyst theory, that's not what I'm addressing. After all both Moses 1 and D&C 7 were new texts received during the interrogation of other texts. That is there is an original text producing the new text.

These are minor exceptions which prove the rule.

Quote

My point wasn't that there weren't things attached to book of the dead or related funerary texts. Rather the point was the nature of syncretic texts. Again, I'm far, far from well versed on things Egyptian. However my understanding is that there are no examples of an thoroughgoing Jewish text attached to Egyptian funerary texts. Even the magic papyri that's syncretic (fairly common as I said in the Roman region during the 1st century) isn't attached to a book of breathings or similar funerary arrangements. Also the key issue is that during the period in question, the Ptolemaic era, Egypt was far less syncretic than in earlier eras. So the issue isn't whether a book of breathing was apt to have other texts. Rather the issue is having an uniquely Jewish historical narrative attached. 

The syncretism begins early and is overwhelming, the Israelites and other Canaanites adopting both Egyptian and Mesopotamian religion and culture (including technical terms and gods) nearly wholesale -- before, during, and following the Exodus.  Later efforts to avoid being "contaminated" by Egyptian and other pagan influences certainly do have an effect, but we find notable exceptions in the Jewish magical papyri in the very era under discussion (Ptolemaic & Roman).  The Egyptians certainly saw Semitic gods as mere versions of their own gods, and there are plenty of syncretic artistic representations of that fact in Egypt, in addition to direct Canaanite use of Egyptian motifs (with Aramaic inscriptions thereon).

My comments on unrelated documents being attached to each other on one papyrus had nothing to do with syncretism, but only with the practical needs of a scribe.  Papyri having more than one document being attached, or overwritten (as in the case of palimsests) was quite normal.  This is a crucial point in rebutting claims that it never happened.

Quote

The key issue is that our Book of Abraham seems completely untied to a funerary context. So this is more a critique of the pure missing text theory.

The emphasis on "funerary" misses the point that these are living liturgical exercises done by living Egyptians on a regular basis -- no different than the LDS Endowment and related sacramental actions.  Sure they are related to death, but it is the living who engage in them at the temples each day.  Aside from that, the BofA is only tied to Egyptian liturgical documents as a matter of convenience, not as the the focus of the book.  The illustrations are adapted to use by a separate type of autobiographical document.  No more.

Quote

Now if one raises the possibility of some highly corrupt and perhaps fragmentary text about Abraham that makes sense in a funerary context then things change. Say something like a gnostic ascent syncretic with Egyptian and Jewish themes and figures. The second half of say the Apocalypse of Abraham would make sense for instance. The problem is that we don't have any examples of that in Egypt - especially in the Thebes region.

So of course I'm completely open to evidence along these lines. It's just missing at the moment. Further this line of reasoning as I see it points much more to the hybrid theory of corrupt fragmentary text + catalyst.

Nibley argued that the esoteric nature of the Egyptian temple documents indicates an "Egyptian endowment."  N. Turner believed that the Testament of Abraham was written in Egypt, the Greek certainly Alexandrian.  The Apocalypse of Abraham came from the same general era, but probably from Palestine in Hebrew.  This does not mean that a Jewish document could not be transmitted in the Theban region, from which we find many Israelite cultural features.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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3 hours ago, CA Steve said:

I don't know about the Book of Mormon but the catalyst for the JST appears to be Adam Clark's biblical commentary.

A Recently Recovered Source: Rethinking Joseph Smith’s Bible Translation

I think a lot depends upon what one means by catalyst. Certainly I'd say Clarke's commentary was used as part of "studying it out in your mind." Perhaps it acted as a catalyst for certain revelations, although most of the major texts revised were in Genesis before the use of Clarke. The one exception might be Matthew 24. But I don't know off the top of my head how or even if Clarke affected that. (Some of Joseph's revisions go directly against Clarke)

To me the classic examples of catalysts are Moses 1 are a secret text of Moses prior to starting the JST work, some of the long expansions in Genesis, D&C 7, D&C 93:7-18; D&C 76 and a few others. In a certain sense the gold plates are a catalyst for the Book of Mormon text and Masonry (including Royal Arch added rites and perhaps Adoptive Masonry) were catalysts for the endowment. Now the Book of Mormon clearly makes ample use of the KJV Bible in its translation, but I'm not sure it'd be useful to call it a catalyst. 

But this is largely a semantic argument about where the term is useful rather than really a substantial point.

14 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The emphasis on "funerary" misses the point that these are living liturgical exercises done by living Egyptians on a regular basis -- no different that the LDS Endowment and related sacramental actions.  Sure they are related to death, but it is the living who engage in them at the temples each day.  Aside from that, the BofA is only tied to Egyptian liturgical documents as a matter of convenience, not as the the focus of the book.  The illustrations are adapted to use by a separate type of autobiographical document.  No more.

Is that common? I'm here exposing my ignorance of all things Egyptian again, but I was under the assumption from what I'd read that these were usually standard texts bought to be placed with bodies during funeral arrangements.

14 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Nibley argued that the esoteric nature of the Egyptian temple documents indicates an "Egyptian endowment."  N. Turner believed that the Testament of Abraham was written in Egypt, the Greek certainly Alexandrian.  The Apocalypse of Abraham came from the same general era, but probably from Palestine in Hebrew.  This does not mean that a Jewish document could not be transmitted in the Theban region, from which we find many Israelite cultural features.

I think there's a strong case to be made that early Judaism was far more Egyptian than most scholars assume. Of course the texts we have primarily represent the Priestly and Deuteronomist traditions with the Enochian tradition being representing in pseudopigraphal texts and the Dead Sea Scrolls. That tends to bias scholars (IMO) first to only look at Babylonian and Persian influences from the exile or Canaanite parallels from before the exile. However if there wasn't a written Hebrew until fairly late, that doesn't mean there weren't scriptural writings but may just suggest Egyptian was the writing system used. (Certainly Nephi can be read pointing in that direction)

While I'll fully confess my relative ignorance of the nuances of Egyptian than thought I've long thought it was far more of an influence on Nephi than typically thought and likely represents the northern Israel tradition as opposed to the D and P traditions. That's why Nephi has resurrection earlier than many scholars think it arose and may explain the mysterious Alma 13 that seems to suggest a very different conception of priesthood than the centralization of the priestly cult in Jerusalem. I'd actually brought this up in Nibley's class one day, but Bill Hamblin was substitute teaching that day and stated flat out there was no evidence of Egyptian religion in the Book of Mormon.

Anyway, my point is that I fully agree with you. The question is why an Egyptian scribe who could read such things would put such an syncretic text in a standard funerary text they sold. If the argument is that the mummies were Jewish and reflect a syncretic strain of 1st century Judaism we no longer have record of that's somewhat plausible. If the argument is that 5th or 4th century Jewish texts got injected into standard scribal book of breathing texts I confess I find that far less likely. But again I am speaking from relative ignorance here.  

Edited by clarkgoble

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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

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

Is that common? I'm here exposing my ignorance of all things Egyptian again, but I was under the assumption from what I'd read that these were usually standard texts bought to be placed with bodies during funeral arrangements.

See Stephen O. Smoot, “The Book of the Dead as a Temple Text and Its Implications for the Book of Abraham,” paper delivered at the Temple on Mount Zion Conference, at BYU, Provo, Utah, Oct 25, 2014, online at https://interpreterfoundation.org/stephen-smoot-on-the-book-of-the-dead-as-a-temple-text-and-its-implications-for-the-book-of-abraham/ .  See also E. A. E. Reymond, The Mythical Origin of the Egyptian Temple (Manchester Univ. Press, 1969).  One can ferret out the living temple liturgy in the temples of Philae, Edfu, Esna, Kom Ombo, Dendera, etc., by referring to translations in  Serge Sauneron, Le temple d'Esna, 8 vols. (Cairo, 1959-1982). and his Les fetes religieuses d'Esna, or in E. Chassinat Le Temple d’Edfou (Cairo, 1897-1960), but Nibley lays it all out systematically in his Message of the JSP: An Egyptian Endowment, 2nd ed. (2005).   See also Amr Gaber's doctoral dissertation online at http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/88/1/PhD_Thesis.pdf?DDD6+ .

The ancient daily ritual in Egypt was little different than current puja in Hindu temples.  Ancient Egyptian temple rites were performed for both the living and the dead, and, as pointed out to me by John Gee, even autobiographical accounts line up systematically with the content and sequence of Book of the Dead texts – showing clearly that the ritual sequence of the Book of the Dead was actively performed live in Egyptian temples.    As Robert Ritner has also pointed out, “Various temple, and even private, rituals were devised to ensure the victory of Re and the consequent maintenance of world stability” – “for both the living and the dead.”  Ritner, “The Repulsing of the Dragon (1.21) (Coffin Text 160),” in W. W. Hallo, ed., The Context of Scripture, 3 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 1997, 2000, 2002), I:32, citing his own previous work (1993:210-212).

1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

I think there's a strong case to be made that early Judaism was far more Egyptian than most scholars assume. Of course the texts we have primarily represent the Priestly and Deuteronomist traditions with the Enochian tradition being representing in pseudopigraphal texts and the Dead Sea Scrolls. That tends to bias scholars (IMO) first to only look at Babylonian and Persian influences from the exile or Canaanite parallels from before the exile. However if there wasn't a written Hebrew until fairly late, that doesn't mean there weren't scriptural writings but may just suggest Egyptian was the writing system used. (Certainly Nephi can be read pointing in that direction)

While I'll fully confess my relative ignorance of the nuances of Egyptian than thought I've long thought it was far more of an influence on Nephi than typically thought and likely represents the northern Israel tradition as opposed to the D and P traditions. That's why Nephi has resurrection earlier than many scholars think it arose and may explain the mysterious Alma 13 that seems to suggest a very different conception of priesthood than the centralization of the priestly cult in Jerusalem. I'd actually brought this up in Nibley's class one day, but Bill Hamblin was substitute teaching that day and stated flat out there was no evidence of Egyptian religion in the Book of Mormon.

Ha, ha, ha.  😂  He couldn't be more wrong.

1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

Anyway, my point is that I fully agree with you. The question is why an Egyptian scribe who could read such things would put such an syncretic text in a standard funerary text they sold. If the argument is that the mummies were Jewish and reflect a syncretic strain of 1st century Judaism we no longer have record of that's somewhat plausible. If the argument is that 5th or 4th century Jewish texts got injected into standard scribal book of breathing texts I confess I find that far less likely. But again I am speaking from relative ignorance here.  

I am not prepared to say just what the configuration of Egyptian and Jewish docs was for the Jewish scribe who must have penned the version translated by Joseph, because we just don't have it.

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2 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

I think a lot depends upon what one means by catalyst. Certainly I'd say Clarke's commentary was used as part of "studying it out in your mind." Perhaps it acted as a catalyst for certain revelations, although most of the major texts revised were in Genesis before the use of Clarke. The one exception might be Matthew 24. But I don't know off the top of my head how or even if Clarke affected that. (Some of Joseph's revisions go directly against Clarke)

To me the classic examples of catalysts are Moses 1 are a secret text of Moses prior to starting the JST work, some of the long expansions in Genesis, D&C 7, D&C 93:7-18; D&C 76 and a few others. In a certain sense the gold plates are a catalyst for the Book of Mormon text and Masonry (including Royal Arch added rites and perhaps Adoptive Masonry) were catalysts for the endowment. Now the Book of Mormon clearly makes ample use of the KJV Bible in its translation, but I'm not sure it'd be useful to call it a catalyst

But this is largely a semantic argument about where the term is useful rather than really a substantial point

Well, in an interview about their paper on Smith's use of Clarke's commentary, one of the authors used the word "plagiarized", so maybe catalyst isn't the correct term. Interestingly enough that author also mentioned an upcoming book from U. of U. where the full paper was going to be released and hinted at an expansion of their research into other areas like the Book of Abraham. Coincidently, this last weekend, I was rereading a paper by Sam Brown, Joseph (Smith) in Egypt, Babel, Hieroglyphics, and the Pure Language of Eden, in which Brown writes about the  "Pure Language" and Clarke's Bible Commentary. (I wish I could find a direct link to the paper but this is the best I could find.)

Quote

 Occasionally Phelps got specific: in an 1833 explanation of the polemic uses of "civilized" and " savage" he cautioned "as to the meaning of words, we are sensible, many contradictions in terms exist, and will till wickedness is destroyed, and the Pure Language returned." Adam Clarke's popular Methodist Bible commentary had made much the same argument.

At the same time the JST was being produced we also find Smith's circa March 1832 A Sample of Pure Language. In light of the discussion about who was taking the lead in the EA & GAEL, Phelps or Joseph, I would be very interested in seeing what Clarke actually had to say about this subject as well.

 

2 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

Anyway, my point is that I fully agree with you. The question is why an Egyptian scribe who could read such things would put such an syncretic text in a standard funerary text they sold. If the argument is that the mummies were Jewish and reflect a syncretic strain of 1st century Judaism we no longer have record of that's somewhat plausible. If the argument is that 5th or 4th century Jewish texts got injected into standard scribal book of breathing texts I confess I find that far less likely. But again I am speaking from relative ignorance here

I have wondered much the same thing. From my uninformed point of view, I have a hard time understanding how this "extra" text gets added on to the ends of both the Hor scroll and the Ta-Sherit-Min scroll and then being placed in the arms of the dead without being noticed by the family of the dead. I think the response I have seen to that question in the past is that it was not unusual to bury important texts with the dead. Since we know who these dead are and when and where they lived, what evidence do we have from that time and area that this was not unusual for this type text to be included? Also if these were important texts and burying them with mummies wasn't unusual, why are these the only two copies ever found of this Book of Abraham and Joseph? I know, there are other examples of rare texts or even non-existent ones of which we only have a reference, but the chain of improbable event after improbable event that had to have occurred for both the Book of Abraham and the Book of Joseph to have made their was to Joseph Smith is simply unbelievable..

Edited by CA Steve

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11 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

Well, in an interview about their paper on Smith's use of Clarke's commentary, one of the authors used the word "plagiarized", so maybe catalyst isn't the correct term. Interestingly enough that author also mentioned an upcoming book from U. of U. where the full paper was going to be released and hinted at an expansion of their research into other areas like the Book of Abraham. Coincidently, this last weekend, I was rereading a paper by Sam Brown, Joseph (Smith) in Egypt, Babel, Hieroglyphics, and the Pure Language of Eden, in which Brown writes about the  "Pure Language" and Clarke's Bible Commentary. (I wish I could find a direct link to the paper but this is the best I could find.)

At the same time the JST was being produced we also find Smith's circa March 1832 A Sample of Pure Language. In light of the discussion about who was taking the lead in the EA & GAEL, Phelps or Joseph, I would be very interested in seeing what Clarke actually had to say about this subject as well.

 

I have wondered much the same thing. From my uninformed point of view, I have a hard time understanding how this "extra" text gets added on to the ends of both the Hor scroll and the Ta-Sherit-Min scroll and then being placed in the arms of the dead without being noticed by the family of the dead. I think the response I have seen to that question in the past is that it was not unusual to bury important texts with the dead. Since we know who these dead are and when and where they lived, what evidence do we have from that time and area that this was not unusual for this type text to be included? Also if these were important texts and burying them with mummies wasn't unusual, why are these the only two copies ever found of this Book of Abraham and Joseph? I know, there are other examples of rare texts or even non-existent ones of which we only have a reference, but the chain of improbable event after improbable event that had to have occurred for both the Book of Abraham and the Book of Joseph to have made their was to Joseph Smith is simply unbelievable..

From the Thomas Wayment, “

When news inadvertently broke that a source had been uncovered that was used in the process of creating the JST, some were quick to use that information as a point of criticism against Joseph or against the JST. Words like “plagiarism” were quickly brought forward as a reasonable explanation of what was going on. To be clear, plagiarism is a word that to me implies an overt attempt to copy the work of another person directly and intentionally without attributing any recognition to the source from which the information was taken.

To the best of my understanding, Joseph Smith used Adam Clarke as a Bible commentary to guide his mind and thought process to consider the Bible in ways that he wouldn’t have been able to do so otherwise. It may be strong to say, but Joseph didn’t have training in ancient languages or the history of the Bible, but Adam Clarke did. And Joseph appears to have appreciated Clarke’s expertise and in using Clarke as a source, Joseph at times adopted the language of that source as he revised the Bible.

I think that those who are troubled by this process are largely troubled because it contradicts a certain constructed narrative about the history of the JST and about how revelation works.

The reality of what happened is inspiring. 

Joseph, who applied his own prophetic authority to the Bible in the revision process, drew upon the best available scholarship to guide his prophetic instincts. Inspiration following careful study and consideration is a prophetic model that can include many members of the church.

 

2) Your Phelps quote shows that he also potentially had background with Clarke’s commentary. Additionally, restoring Adamic pure language was much more broadly discussed than solely that commentary. 

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16 minutes ago, Steve J said:

From the Thomas Wayment, “

When news inadvertently broke that a source had been uncovered that was used in the process of creating the JST, some were quick to use that information as a point of criticism against Joseph or against the JST. Words like “plagiarism” were quickly brought forward as a reasonable explanation of what was going on. To be clear, plagiarism is a word that to me implies an overt attempt to copy the work of another person directly and intentionally without attributing any recognition to the source from which the information was taken.

To the best of my understanding, Joseph Smith used Adam Clarke as a Bible commentary to guide his mind and thought process to consider the Bible in ways that he wouldn’t have been able to do so otherwise. It may be strong to say, but Joseph didn’t have training in ancient languages or the history of the Bible, but Adam Clarke did. And Joseph appears to have appreciated Clarke’s expertise and in using Clarke as a source, Joseph at times adopted the language of that source as he revised the Bible.

I think that those who are troubled by this process are largely troubled because it contradicts a certain constructed narrative about the history of the JST and about how revelation works.

The reality of what happened is inspiring. 

Joseph, who applied his own prophetic authority to the Bible in the revision process, drew upon the best available scholarship to guide his prophetic instincts. Inspiration following careful study and consideration is a prophetic model that can include many members of the church

There were two authors, the other author, Haley Wilson explicitly used the word plagiarism in an interview on Mormon Disscussions.  It is understandable why Wayment would want to tone down the implications of the paper since I believe he is still employed by BYU. The other author, the one who actually did most of the actual work in researching the paper has since left the church. 

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25 minutes ago, Steve J said:

2) Your Phelps quote shows that he also potentially had background with Clarke’s commentary. Additionally, restoring Adamic pure language was much more broadly discussed than solely that commentary

I have no doubts that Phelps was familiar with Clarkes commentary. I was just pointing out that in the same time frame in which the Sample of Pure Language was produced by Joseph Smith, we can see Joseph was also using Clarke's commentary for the JST revisions. Much more to be explored there.

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3 hours ago, CA Steve said:

There were two authors, the other author, Haley Wilson explicitly used the word plagiarism in an interview on Mormon Disscussions.  It is understandable why Wayment would want to tone down the implications of the paper since I believe he is still employed by BYU. The other author, the one who actually did most of the actual work in researching the paper has since left the church. 

So you did a great job of an ad hominem attack on Professor Wayment opinion and view, while also making the claim that the person who finds something is necessarily the sole arbitrator of it’s meaning and significance 🤦‍♂️  She also stated that Prof Wayment was stoked about her find. I also listened to that podcast 

But thanks for reminding me about that the article from Sam Brown, one of my favorite people to read!

 

 

Edited by Steve J

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6 hours ago, CA Steve said:

There were two authors, the other author, Haley Wilson explicitly used the word plagiarism in an interview on Mormon Disscussions.  It is understandable why Wayment would want to tone down the implications of the paper since I believe he is still employed by BYU. The other author, the one who actually did most of the actual work in researching the paper has since left the church. 

Wayment explicitly says it's not plagiarism. He's writing a book on the Clarke issue. (Possibly with Wilson although I'm not sure on that point) There's an interview with him at T&S in association with 10 Questions yesterday. (I believe that's where the quote earlier came from) I don't think in the least this is Wayment toning down the issue. Also in research projects it's undergrads doing the grunt work but that's pretty normal. I wouldn't say that implies she did the actual research work, depending upon what you mean by that. 

To me it's a pretty great bit of information but I honestly don't quite get why anyone would find it troubling unless they were already committed to a pretty difficult to hold conception of the JST. I didn't listen to the Mormon Stories interview with Wilson, but I have a hard time believing that's why she left the Church. It's very much in keeping with D&C 9:8. It's worth noting that sometimes Clarke influences the JST and in many places it goes against Clarke.

7 hours ago, CA Steve said:

Well, in an interview about their paper on Smith's use of Clarke's commentary, one of the authors used the word "plagiarized", so maybe catalyst isn't the correct term. Interestingly enough that author also mentioned an upcoming book from U. of U. where the full paper was going to be released and hinted at an expansion of their research into other areas like the Book of Abraham. Coincidently, this last weekend, I was rereading a paper by Sam Brown, Joseph (Smith) in Egypt, Babel, Hieroglyphics, and the Pure Language of Eden, in which Brown writes about the  "Pure Language" and Clarke's Bible Commentary. (I wish I could find a direct link to the paper but this is the best I could find.)

Not sure whether that refers to Wayment's forthcoming book that he mentioned over at T&S or something else. I'd imagine that the Book of Abraham also involved research although so far as I know people haven't pointed to specific texts with as much influence as Clarke had on the JST. Certainly by Nauvoo he was studying Hebrew with Seixas and people have pointed to his transliterations and elements of the alphabet and Abraham. I've mentioned that the revelation on spirit as matter may well have been prompted by studying Tertullian's Stoicism in a history of theology book Joseph and Orson Pratt had access to. (Forget the name off the top of my head)

And of course "Pure Language" can mean many different things. I love to point people to my favorite history of the topic (unrelated to Mormonism). Umberto Eco's The Search for the Perfect Language. There he notes the two poles of what this means: A perfect 1:1 language in terms of correspondence versus a perfectly metaphoric language. This parallels the themes in his work on semiotics he calls the open and closed text. Eco's Tanner Lectures (yes that Tanner) are a great introduction to the topic as well albeit with less discussion of Adamaic. 

Anyway my whole argument is that if we use the word "catalyst" we have to limit it so it doesn't just reduce to the overly broad and vague sense of "influence."

7 hours ago, CA Steve said:

At the same time the JST was being produced we also find Smith's circa March 1832 A Sample of Pure Language. In light of the discussion about who was taking the lead in the EA & GAEL, Phelps or Joseph, I would be very interested in seeing what Clarke actually had to say about this subject as well.

 Clarke, as other noted, apparently discusses a pure language. I did a search for "pure language" and there were only three hits. Only one seems terribly relevant - the commentary on Zeph 3:9

  • Will I turn to the people - This promise must refer to the conversion of the Jews under the Gospel.
  • That they may all call - That the whole nation may invoke God by Christ, and serve him with one consent; not one unbeliever being found among them.
  • The pure language, שפה ברורה saphah berurah, may here mean the form of religious worship. They had been before idolaters: now God promises to restore his pure worship among them. The word has certainly this meaning in Psa 81:6; where, as God is the speaker, the words should not be rendered, "I heard a language which I understood not," but, "I heard a religious confession, which I approved not." See Isa 19:18; Hos 14:3; and see Joe 2:28, where a similar promise is found. 

I'd confess that my own inclination is that Awmen is a mangling of Amen and that Joseph knew (through Clarke if no where else) that it meant Truly. So the pure language is just a way of calling God truth ala D&C 93.

Edited by clarkgoble

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On ‎1‎/‎3‎/‎2019 at 9:00 PM, clarkgoble said:

Wayment explicitly says it's not plagiarism. He's writing a book on the Clarke issue. (Possibly with Wilson although I'm not sure on that point) There's an interview with him at T&S in association with 10 Questions yesterday. (I believe that's where the quote earlier came from) I don't think in the least this is Wayment toning down the issue. Also in research projects it's undergrads doing the grunt work but that's pretty normal. I wouldn't say that implies she did the actual research work, depending upon what you mean by that.

Hi Clark,

I went back and listened again to the Wilson interview to make sure I was not misrepresenting her and I also read the 10 questions interview at T&S to see what Wayment had to say. I think if you took the time to listen to what Wilson has to say in her interview about the entire process of their paper, you might have a different view on whether or not they were trying to tone down the Clarke Commentary issue. For example at the 31:30 mark Wilson talks about how since they were at BYU, Tom had to keep his job and she had to get her diploma so they talked about ways to frame this to be palatable. Later on she mentions how they were trying very hard to make it as nonthreatening as possible. for public consumption in the rank and file members of the church. I can say that Wilson definitely thinks Joseph Smith plagiarized from Clarke and uses that term or agrees with it several times during the interview.

As far as her involvement in the project; according to her " If you ask both of us the work was 50-50", and "when it came to writing the paper we each wrote sections" and "originally Tom wanted me to write the paper myself but we decided it would carry more weight with his name on it." See starting about 9:50 onward. And even Wayment in his T&S interview said this about the forth coming paper.

Quote

In a forthcoming study, a friend and former student and I will present evidence that Joseph Smith used a common and popular Methodist Bible commentary while completing the translation of the Bible. That commentary was written by Adam Clarke, and it was immensely popular in 19th century America.

I think her involvement here is on par with Wayment's.

 

On ‎1‎/‎3‎/‎2019 at 9:00 PM, clarkgoble said:

To me it's a pretty great bit of information but I honestly don't quite get why anyone would find it troubling unless they were already committed to a pretty difficult to hold conception of the JST. I didn't listen to the Mormon Stories interview with Wilson, but I have a hard time believing that's why she left the Church. It's very much in keeping with D&C 9:8

Wilson talks at length about her faith journey and directly ties it to the research she did for Wayment, research that began in 2015 immediately after she returned from a mission. To paraphrase her words, starting at 112:00±

"if the Book of Mormon is true then the Church is true...That narrative led to my own faith crisis... the idea that the Book of Mormon has to be this perfect ancient text... It was in doing this research I realized it wasn't and that led me to my of faith crisis."

On ‎1‎/‎3‎/‎2019 at 9:00 PM, clarkgoble said:

It's worth noting that sometimes Clarke influences the JST and in many places it goes against Clarke.

I think both Wayment and Wilson would agree with that but would also point out that "influence" does not quite cover those instances where Smith directly copied from Clarke. According to Wilson they found 30 in the New Testament and another 15 in the OT. I think we will both have to wait until the book comes out to read their results to know how significant and extensive Smith's use of Clarke's Commentary actually was.

 

On ‎1‎/‎3‎/‎2019 at 9:00 PM, clarkgoble said:

Not sure whether that refers to Wayment's forthcoming book that he mentioned over at T&S or something else. I'd imagine that the Book of Abraham also involved research although so far as I know people haven't pointed to specific texts with as much influence as Clarke had on the JST

Wayment has a commentary of the New Testament that he just released called The New Testament: A Translation for Latter-day Saints which is published by Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book. His paper with Wilson is a different book that is going to be released by the University of Utah press. So there are two different books and it is the second one from U of U that will have the article on Clarke's influence on the JST as well as something more on the Book of Abraham.

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7 hours ago, CA Steve said:

Hi Clark,

I went back and listened again to the Wilson interview to make sure I was not misrepresenting her and I also read the 10 questions interview at T&S to see what Wayment had to say. I think if you took the time to listen to what Wilson has to say in her interview about the entire process of their paper, you might have a different view on whether or not they were trying to tone down the Clarke Commentary issue. For example at the 31:30 mark Wilson talks about how since they were at BYU, Tom had to keep his job and she had to get her diploma so they talked about ways to frame this to be palatable. Later on she mentions how they were trying very hard to make it as nonthreatening as possible. for public consumption in the rank and file members of the church. I can say that Wilson definitely thinks Joseph Smith plagiarized from Clarke and uses that term or agrees with it several times during the interview.

As far as her involvement in the project; according to her " If you ask both of us the work was 50-50", and "when it came to writing the paper we each wrote sections" and "originally Tom wanted me to write the paper myself but we decided it would carry more weight with his name on it." See starting about 9:50 onward. And even Wayment in his T&S interview said this about the forth coming paper.

I think her involvement here is on par with Wayment's.

 

Wilson talks at length about her faith journey and directly ties it to the research she did for Wayment, research that began in 2015 immediately after she returned from a mission. To paraphrase her words, starting at 112:00±

"if the Book of Mormon is true then the Church is true...That narrative led to my own faith crisis... the idea that the Book of Mormon has to be this perfect ancient text... It was in doing this research I realized it wasn't and that led me to my of faith crisis."

I think both Wayment and Wilson would agree with that but would also point out that "influence" does not quite cover those instances where Smith directly copied from Clarke. According to Wilson they found 30 in the New Testament and another 15 in the OT. I think we will both have to wait until the book comes out to read their results to know how significant and extensive Smith's use of Clarke's Commentary actually was.

 

Wayment has a commentary of the New Testament that he just released called The New Testament: A Translation for Latter-day Saints which is published by Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book. His paper with Wilson is a different book that is going to be released by the University of Utah press. So there are two different books and it is the second one from U of U that will have the article on Clarke's influence on the JST as well as something more on the Book of Abraham.

Again with your accusation that Dr. Wayment is not being honest in his statements and beliefs bc of outside pressure. Your obvious desire to label is tiring.

However, I do look forward to their future publications on JST.

Edited by Steve J
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