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snowflake

No record of "scribes" in the Book of Mormon.

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There are literally tens of thousands of Biblical manuscripts that support the biblical narrative and story. In both the Old and New Testaments, the biblical record tells of “scribes” whose job was to accurately reproduce the text of scripture. In searching the BOM the term “scribe” does not appear. 

Were the BOM prophets the only ones to record the BOM narrative, or were there scribes who made multiple copies of the record similar to the biblical scribes?

If there was only a single copy of the BOM narrative (gold plates), how would the Lamanites and Nephites read, study or comprehend their history and their history with God?

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15 minutes ago, snowflake said:

There are literally tens of thousands of Biblical manuscripts that support the biblical narrative and story. In both the Old and New Testaments, the biblical record tells of “scribes” whose job was to accurately reproduce the text of scripture. In searching the BOM the term “scribe” does not appear. 

Were the BOM prophets the only ones to record the BOM narrative, or were there scribes who made multiple copies of the record similar to the biblical scribes?

If there was only a single copy of the BOM narrative (gold plates), how would the Lamanites and Nephites read, study or comprehend their history and their history with God?

My understanding is that scribes must have been used to make copies of various things and distribute them, but that Mormon and Moroni used only primary sources only; at least where the copies (OT quotes being the most apparent, but some of the orations of some of the kings and prophets also) were sufficiently bona fide for inclusion with these documents.

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First, there were many many different records, which Mormon used to create the gold plates.  They also had records that they brought over with them from the Old World.  The nephites and lamanites never had access to the BOM (because it didn't exist yet) but they did have access to spiritual writings (what we would call scriptures).

Second, sometimes the records were kept by men of God and sometimes they were kept by the kings.  It depended on the book as to how it came to be a part of the BOM.

These links might be helpful-

https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/explanation?lang=eng&clang=eng#p1

https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/morm/1.1?lang=eng&clang=eng#p1

https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/introduction?lang=eng&clang=eng#p1

https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/book-of-mormon?lang=eng

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36 minutes ago, snowflake said:

There are literally tens of thousands of Biblical manuscripts that support the biblical narrative and story. In both the Old and New Testaments, the biblical record tells of “scribes” whose job was to accurately reproduce the text of scripture. In searching the BOM the term “scribe” does not appear. 

Were the BOM prophets the only ones to record the BOM narrative, or were there scribes who made multiple copies of the record similar to the biblical scribes?

If there was only a single copy of the BOM narrative (gold plates), how would the Lamanites and Nephites read, study or comprehend their history and their history with God?

I suspect it is simply a matter of omission. There are plenty of clues that  Nephite society utilized various scribes and record keepers. I thought this recent blog post from Kirk Magleby was interesting:

http://bookofmormonresources.blogspot.com/2019/01/why-only-male-authors-in-book-of-mormon.html

These sources also discuss the scribal tradition among the Nephites:

https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/nephi-scribe

https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/nephite-daykeepers-ritual-specialists-mesoamerica-and-book-mormon

Mormon's Codex, pp. 184-232

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It appears the prophets wrote them themselves. Nephi and Jacob and their successors directly and Mormon and Moroni sifting through other records and summarizing. Copies could easily have been made and distributed of the words of Nephi and Jacob as well as copies of the sources from which Mormon and Moroni made their record. I doubt there was much (if any) distribution of the actual Book of Mormon text Mormon and Moroni wrote up. There was not much of an audience left for that kind of scripture at that point.

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The book of Mormon doesnt use the word scribes, but it does say, "caused to be written".

Unfortunately there is no evidence for these writtings i.e nothing comparable to the silver Hinnom scroll has ever been discovered in Mexico, Honduras or Guatemala.

Here are a few intriguing references in the book.

Jacob 3:13

13 And a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, which now began to be numerous, cannot be written upon these plates; but many of their proceedings are written upon the larger plates, and their wars, and their contentions, and the reigns of their kings.

Mormon 9:33

33 And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.

Jarom1:14

14 And I, Jarom, do not write more, for the plates are small. But behold, my brethren, ye can go to the bother plates of Nephi; for behold, upon them the records of our wars are engraven, according to the writings of the kings, or those which they caused to be written.

also see the famous Mosiah 1:1-4 reference

https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/mosiah/1.1-4?lang=eng

Edited by blueglass
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1 hour ago, snowflake said:

There are literally tens of thousands of Biblical manuscripts that support the biblical narrative and story. In both the Old and New Testaments, the biblical record tells of “scribes” whose job was to accurately reproduce the text of scripture. In searching the BOM the term “scribe” does not appear. 

Were the BOM prophets the only ones to record the BOM narrative, or were there scribes who made multiple copies of the record similar to the biblical scribes?

If there was only a single copy of the BOM narrative (gold plates), how would the Lamanites and Nephites read, study or comprehend their history and their history with God?

The Book of Mormon as we have it now was mostly written by Mormon and Moroni. They are the scribes. No one in their time would have read what we have. It was written for us 

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My theory is that in the lost 116 pages, Mormon laments the fact that Murray, his last scribe, is too busy to help him because he is engaged in his own unsupervised project to create Reformed Egyptian to Mayan cipher.

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2 hours ago, snowflake said:

There are literally tens of thousands of Biblical manuscripts that support the biblical narrative and story. In both the Old and New Testaments, the biblical record tells of “scribes” whose job was to accurately reproduce the text of scripture. In searching the BOM the term “scribe” does not appear. 

Were the BOM prophets the only ones to record the BOM narrative, or were there scribes who made multiple copies of the record similar to the biblical scribes?

If there was only a single copy of the BOM narrative (gold plates), how would the Lamanites and Nephites read, study or comprehend their history and their history with God?

Mosiah 28:11 implies a scribal class. There King Mosiah "caused to be written the records which were on the plates of gold." The passive clause implies he was telling scribes to copy the texts. There's also clear indications there were many other texts. (See 28:20 for instance) 

As for how Nephites and Lamanites would know, the text seems to imply in various places (albeit not explicitly) that most people were illiterate. (This was also the case in ancient Palestine) So you'd have a scribal/priestly class who could read and then the actual teaching was oral. Both Mosiah 2:8-9 and Mosiah 29:4 imply this when the King sends writings amongst the people. And of course there would also have been oral traditions as well. There appear to be class distinctions in the main narrative (Mosiah and Alma) which was in keeping with mesoAmerica. Mosiah 1:2-3 seems to imply that only this upper class (presumably priests and the rulers) were literate. 

None of this is explicit. But there's definitely the appearance of a scribal class even if it's not really commented upon much. Whether the scribal class simply is the priestly class isn't something we can tell. 

 

Edited by clarkgoble
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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

Mosiah 28:11 implies a scribal class. There King Mosiah "caused to be written the records which were on the plates of gold." The passive clause implies he was telling scribes to copy the texts. There's also clear indications there were many other texts. (See 28:20 for instance) 

As for how Nephites and Lamanites would know, the text seems to imply in various places (albeit not explicitly) that most people were illiterate. (This was also the case in ancient Palestine) So you'd have a scribal/priestly class who could read and then the actual teaching was oral. Both Mosiah 2:8-9 and Mosiah 29:4 imply this when the King sends writings amongst the people. And of course there would also have been oral traditions as well. There appear to be class distinctions in the main narrative (Mosiah and Alma) which was in keeping with mesoAmerica. Mosiah 1:2-3 seems to imply that only this upper class (presumably priests and the rulers) were literate. 

None of this is explicit. But there's definitely the appearance of a scribal class even if it's not really commented upon much. Whether the scribal class simply is the priestly class isn't something we can tell. 

 

Thank you for your answer...I definitely think you are on the right track that there must have been some kind of scribal class as in the biblical narrative.  Having come from the old world,  any idea why these scribes started recording on plates as opposed to the tradition animal skin or papyri? Possibly a newer technology? 

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2 hours ago, blueglass said:

Mormon 9:33

33 And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.

This has to be one of the most bizaare verses in the BOM!! This makes no sense whatsoever!

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3 hours ago, bluebell said:

First, there were many many different records, which Mormon used to create the gold plates.  They also had records that they brought over with them from the Old World.  The nephites and lamanites never had access to the BOM (because it didn't exist yet) but they did have access to spiritual writings (what we would call scriptures).

Second, sometimes the records were kept by men of God and sometimes they were kept by the kings.  It depended on the book as to how it came to be a part of the BOM.

These links might be helpful-

https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/explanation?lang=eng&clang=eng#p1

https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/morm/1.1?lang=eng&clang=eng#p1

https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/introduction?lang=eng&clang=eng#p1

https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/book-of-mormon?lang=eng

Do you think there was a scribal class creating the many different records or was it mainly the prophets? The records that existed the Old World were typically papyri or animal skins...referred to as scrolls....why switch to the gold plates? 

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12 minutes ago, snowflake said:

Thank you for your answer...I definitely think you are on the right track that there must have been some kind of scribal class as in the biblical narrative.  Having come from the old world,  any idea why these scribes started recording on plates as opposed to the tradition animal skin or papyri? Possibly a newer technology? 

I think the assumption is that they did both. Most of the accounts of writing seem distinguished from writing on the plates. Presumably the idea is that the plates are more permanent. That type of record almost certainly has other connotations because of the place of the plates of brass and the two sets of gold plates. However I'd say that some kind of paper-like substance is implied in most of the verses, not metal. Again in keeping with mesoAmerica as well and the ancient world (although we have no evidence of extended writing on plates).

If we look at mesoAmerica things get complicated since the Spanish destroyed nearly all the writings. We know there were tons of writings and now only a handful survive. Most of those are late and don't necessarily tell us what was going on earlier. However we know there are inscriptions that date to the period of Mosiah/Alma or earlier. There was a collapse in writing that corresponds to the collapse of classic Maya civilization. In the post-classic era there's still writing, but it's not as sophisticated. In late writings it's apparently usually on deer hide with stucco. Classic Mayan writing apparently was primarily on bark-paper and I'd assume that's what's used in Mosiah/Alma most of the time. There were also some writings done on cloth.

4 minutes ago, snowflake said:

Do you think there was a scribal class creating the many different records or was it mainly the prophets? The records that existed the Old World were typically papyri or animal skins...referred to as scrolls....why switch to the gold plates? 

The Mosiah passages I referenced seem to suggest that some were responsible for the key sacred writings - the prophet or king. They mention other writings and histories that presumably were written by the broader scribal class.

Edited by clarkgoble
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10 minutes ago, snowflake said:

Do you think there was a scribal class creating the many different records or was it mainly the prophets? The records that existed the Old World were typically papyri or animal skins...referred to as scrolls....why switch to the gold plates? 

I think they likely did have a scribe class. 

I’m not sure why the switch from scrolls to plates other than the different climate. If the BOM takes place in central and South America, that is a very wet, very acidic environment. Bones don’t last more than a few years before the environment dissolves them, for example. 

It might have been a case where the writing equipment from a very dry climate was not very useful in a wet one, so they changed their medium. 

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On 1/10/2019 at 11:40 AM, snowflake said:
Quote

2 hours ago, blueglass said:

Mormon 9:33

33 And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.

This has to be one of the most bizaare verses in the BOM!! This makes no sense whatsoever!

Biblical Hebrew was written alphabetically, though without vowels.  Cursive Egyptian could be written logographically and so saved precious space when engraved on plates.  This suggests that Hebrew was the lingua franca of the Nephites and so far more expressive for them than the language of the scribal elite who continued to refer to the Brass Plates and to keep records in Reformed Egyptian (I take "reformed Egyptian" to mean "shorthand Egyptian, cursive Egyptian").

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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11 minutes ago, snowflake said:

This has to be one of the most bizaare verses in the BOM!! This makes no sense whatsoever!

It makes a lot more sense if one considers what 19th century beliefs were regarding Hebrew, Egyptian and Pure Adamic language. Joseph Smith was interested in languages, especially Egyptian and Hebrew, because in 19th century America they were considered the closest languages to Pure Adamic which many thought eliminated all forms of linguistic confusion. 

 

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20 minutes ago, snowflake said:

This has to be one of the most bizaare verses in the BOM!! This makes no sense whatsoever!

“If I had room I would write in Hebrew but you would not be able to read it because we have altered it from what is in our oldest records. If we had the room the record would be more perfect.”

What is so bizarre there?

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Just Google Mayan book burning by Diego de Landa and you'll see what happened to the records

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5 minutes ago, rodheadlee said:

Just Google Mayan book burning by Diego de Landa and you'll see what happened to the records

Are the Mayans the Nephites or Lamanites? I thought that was a different culture and time period all together? 

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Along with what's been said here, if King Noah's court is any indication of how the Zarahemla-based court functioned, then the priestly class also functioned to maintain/keep/teaching literacy and writing. Hence the linguistic shift among the Lamanites to the Nephite language and writing system.

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10 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

“If I had room I would write in Hebrew but you would not be able to read it because we have altered it from what is in our oldest records. If we had the room the record would be more perfect.”

What is so bizarre there?

"the plates weren't big enough and we changed the Hebrew...that's why the record we made isn't perfect"......sounds good enough for me!  I'm glad the Hebrew scribes in the Old World had a little higher standard!

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11 minutes ago, snowflake said:

Are the Mayans the Nephites or Lamanites? I thought that was a different culture and time period all together? 

Mayan is a broad category. Whether the Nephites or Lamanites were among the Mayans gets debated. And of course not everyone buys into the Mexico-Guatalmala location for the Book of Mormon. A common view is that particularly the Lamanites were Mayan. Exactly how the Nephites were related to the Mayans of the pre-classical period differs depending upon the figure in question. The most relevant period is the late pre-classic period from 400 BCE - 250 AD. Typically the portrayal of Maya political organization at this time (or so I've read) is "one of many small political units, each ruled over by a king, of ahua status, who had under him various other ahaus and cahals [ahau is the royal "lord" and cahal a provincial governor], some of whom were in charge of subsidiary centers within the polity." (Gardner, Traditions of the Fathers quoting Martin and Grube, Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens, 18-19) This matches up with Mosiah 24 where you have an overking and subordinate kings.

19 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Biblical Hebrew was written alphabetically, though without vowels.  Cursive Egyptian could be written logographically and so saved precious space when engraved on plates.  This suggests that Hebrew was the lingua franca of the Nephites and so far more expressive for them than the language of the scribal elite who continued to refer to the Brass Plates and to keep records in Reformed Egyptian (I take "reformed Egyptian" to mean "shorthand Egyptian, cursive Egyptian").

With the existing papyri we have where Hebrew was written with Egyptian such as the Papyrus Amherst exactly how does the length compare were the text to have been translated into Egyptian?

I'd also say that while Hebrew is a priestly language there's no indication it was a lingua franca. Indeed I'd argue on the basis of Mosiah 1:2 where King Benjamin teaches his sons "in all the language of his fathers" it implies that the language the people spoke was non-Hebrew. It was unique to be able to speak Hebrew and read Egyptian. So it functioned more the way Latin did for centuries even when the people writing in Latin spoke a different language like English or German.

Edited by clarkgoble
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8 minutes ago, snowflake said:

Are the Mayans the Nephites or Lamanites? I thought that was a different culture and time period all together? 

750 BC according to Wikipedia as the beginning of the Mayan city states. These in compass many different peoples not just one. The term Lamanite covers everyone that's not a nephite

Just Google Mayan civilization

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20 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I think they likely did have a scribe class. 

I’m not sure why the switch from scrolls to plates other than the different climate. If the BOM takes place in central and South America, that is a very wet, very acidic environment. Bones don’t last more than a few years before the environment dissolves them, for example. 

It might have been a case where the writing equipment from a very dry climate was not very useful in a wet one, so they changed their medium. 

Is there any surviving scrolls, plates, or manuscripts today or have they all been lost? 

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28 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

If we look at mesoAmerica things get complicated since the Spanish destroyed nearly all the writings.

Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that the Spanish destroyed all the writings they found?  Certainly it is reasonable to assume that the Spanish could not have destroyed writing in areas they never discovered, perhaps areas like this  Sprawling Maya network discovered under Guatemala jungle.

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