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The Non-Imperative for a historical Book of Mormon

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https://www.churchistrue.com/blog/stephen-smoot-on-the-imperative-for-book-of-mormon-historicity/

Most here are probably familiar with Stephen Smoot's 2013 article on the Imperative for a historical Book of Mormon. https://interpreterfoundation.org/blog-the-imperative-for-a-historical-book-of-mormon/

I wrote up a reply, summarizing my disagreements with his approach, and the reasons why I see that taking a non-historical Book of Mormon should be accepted. I'm not trying to tear down belief in a historical Book of Mormon. But I'd like to normalize the process within Mormonism that is somewhat common in other religions, which is to move to metaphorical model of scripture when science and modern scholarship is pushing some people away from literal belief.

This section covers the gist of it.

 

Integrity of Joseph Smith

The main point Smoot makes in all of this is that the Book of Mormon very clearly states what it is and Joseph Smith clearly stated how it came about: Angel Moroni, ancient gold plates, etc. If we consider the Book of Mormon non-historical, then we must answer why the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith stated otherwise. We must consider Joseph Smith a fraud and a liar or crazy and deluded. All or nothing. No middle ground. If we imply he could have been lying or deluded about these angelic visits and gold plates, then his integrity is gone, and we can’t trust him for anything. He can’t be a prophet.

  1. No, we don’t have to answer that. There are many gospel questions we simply don’t have the answer for. It’s OK to say while I don’t believe the Book of Mormon is historical, I believe Joseph was a prophet, and I neither think he was fraudulent nor deluded, and I have no idea how or why the Book of Mormon was produced the way it was. If critics tell us, “if you believe Jesus Christ was resurrected, you have to tell me scientifically how it happened”, we can say “no idea, I just believe.” If critics demand to know the logic of why we say God answers prayers and is active in our lives yet he’s allowing children to be abused and other atrocities in the world, it’s OK for us to not have a perfect answer for that. Stephen himself says “there are very strange passages in the Book of Mormon that we can’t fully explain or account for today”. We don’t need to explain everything.
  2. Unfortunately, Joseph Smith’s character is not impeccable. It is a very dangerous argument to make it an all or nothing proposition, because a critic can easily turn this around on any number of issues, such as: polygamy, Book of Abraham, Kinderhook Plates, Zelph, Adam-ondi-Ahman, Kirtland Banking scandal, etc. I don’t think we want to draw a line in the sand and say “Joseph was very clear that an angel with drawn sword commanded him to take many girls in marriage, if he was lying or deluded about that, then EVERYTHING else he revealed is suspect.” “Joseph was clear that he was translating an ancient record written about Abraham. If he was lying or deluded about that, then we can’t trust ANYTHING he did.” Why would God choose Joseph Smith to be the prophet if he did xyz? Critics constantly ask that question, and the perfectly fine answer from Mormon Apologists is “prophets aren’t perfect and you can’t answer for God why he does something a certain way or who he chooses to be prophet.”
  3. There are some alternatives or middle ground that I think are reasonable. Maybe Joseph had a powerful spiritual experience, revelation rushing through his brain, an interaction with God, he was responsible to bring this message to the world. What a huge responsibility. Maybe God didn’t micromanage the process other than to sear in his mind the message and the responsibility. Maybe in a way scholar Ann Taves originally theorized, God transformed plates and divinely sanctioned them in a process similar to the Brother of Jared’s 16 stones. Maybe Joseph made some mistakes along the way. Only One is perfect. Our scriptures are full of stories of prophets completely mucking it up. I’m not saying Joseph did, but it would be OK if he did. There are some middle ground possibilities.

 

 

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If we consider the Book of Mormon non-historical, then we must answer why the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith stated otherwise. We must consider Joseph Smith a fraud and a liar or crazy and deluded. All or nothing. No middle ground.

 

bNns655.jpg

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44 minutes ago, churchistrue said:

https://www.churchistrue.com/blog/stephen-smoot-on-the-imperative-for-book-of-mormon-historicity/

Most here are probably familiar with Stephen Smoot's 2013 article on the Imperative for a historical Book of Mormon. https://interpreterfoundation.org/blog-the-imperative-for-a-historical-book-of-mormon/

I wrote up a reply, summarizing my disagreements with his approach, and the reasons why I see that taking a non-historical Book of Mormon should be accepted. I'm not trying to tear down belief in a historical Book of Mormon. But I'd like to normalize the process within Mormonism that is somewhat common in other religions, which is to move to metaphorical model of scripture when science and modern scholarship is pushing some people away from literal belief.

Thanks for this write up, I really appreciate it, and I actually found myself agreeing with you more than I normally do.  I think the most important point, and something that I feel very strongly about is the whole idea around a non-binary approach to Joseph.  People are complicated, they have many things contributing to how they choose to act.  To say Joseph was either a fraud or a saint is trying to make a caricature of a real human with multi faceted motivations and environmental factors that are all having an influence on the choices that person makes.  

For example, with respect to the BoM production I have been very much persuaded by Ann Taves approach to the golden plates, and the very salient observations she makes in her most recent book on that subject, how there are group dynamics at play that influence the production of the BoM. 

As for the evidence for historicity, I don't see any of the key points that Stephen has made as being very strong or particularly insightful.  At the end of the day, he's making arguments from a theological perspective and not an analytical one.  He believes it necessary to argue for historicity because he believes the church will suffer otherwise.  Its a backwards argument with a set conclusion established first, and an attempt to gather evidence to support that position.  He's not even attempting any sense of objectivity.  This kind of apologetics is poorly done and a throw back to the less rigorous and hard nosed style of the past.  I expect that it will actually do more harm for Stephen's cause than good.  

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Great post, @churchistrue!

These are excellent points, I hope that as a Church (capital C) and church (lower case c) we can reach a point where this kind of nuance is accepted.  I don't see us as being there yet as I think a majority of both leaders and members subscribe to the view that a non-historical view of the Book of Mormon is an indictment against Joseph Smith as a prophet.

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21 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

As for the evidence for historicity, I don't see any of the key points that Stephen has made as being very strong or particularly insightful.  At the end of the day, he's making arguments from a theological perspective and not an analytical one.  He believes it necessary to argue for historicity because he believes the church will suffer otherwise.  Its a backwards argument with a set conclusion established first, and an attempt to gather evidence to support that position.  He's not even attempting any sense of objectivity.  This kind of apologetics is poorly done and a throw back to the less rigorous and hard nosed style of the past.  I expect that it will actually do more harm for Stephen's cause than good.  

To be fair to Stephen on this, I think this is a theological debate not a historical debate. So we're not using historical scholarship, we're exploring theologically whether it makes sense or not to view the BOM non-historically. 

Debate over history which is where the scholarship and academics come in, can shape the landscape such that we determine whether or not it's worth having this theological discussion. ie if historicity is rock solid, no reason to have the discussion. If it's not, then people are going to look at adopting this non-historical model. But the actual discussion at hand here is a theological one, imo.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, churchistrue said:

To be fair to Stephen on this, I think this is a theological debate not a historical debate. So we're not using historical scholarship, we're exploring theologically whether it makes sense or not to view the BOM non-historically. 

Debate over history which is where the scholarship and academics come in, can shape the landscape such that we determine whether or not it's worth having this theological discussion. ie if historicity is rock solid, no reason to have the discussion. If it's not, then people are going to look at adopting this non-historical model. But the actual discussion at hand here is a theological one, imo.

I totally agree that Stephen is approaching this as a theological discussion.  The evidence for historicity has never been compelling in any scholarly sense.  That is why you don't have any non-LDS scholars who study this, because there is essentially nothing to study.  The BoM doesn't tell us anything about MesoAmerica or anything on the hemisphere anciently, not one thing.  It only tells us what Joseph and contemporaries in the 19th century believed at that time period.  This fact is so clearly obvious to every scholar who studies the ancient world, that is why they don't study the BoM. 

I find it funny when people make the claim that non-LDS scholars don't engage seriously on these topics, and their conclusion is that they are missing all this great information that would prove antiquity.  Rather, it doesn't take a deep study of the BoM to quickly see that it has no direct relationship to the actual ancient world.  Scholars don't need to study the BoM in detail to see this.  It is clearly a 19th century creation and it doesn't take an in depth review to determine this.  

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1 hour ago, churchistrue said:

There are some middle ground possibilities.

Are there middle ground possibilities for Biblical figures?

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7 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

Are there middle ground possibilities for Biblical figures?

We should evaluate biblical figures according to the best evidence that biblical scholars have about the bible.  In that case the evidence doesn't exist to support historicity for much of the bible.  Pseudepigrapha and midrashic treatment of texts are common.   A huge problem is when people bring an expectation that these texts should represent history according to modern rules of scholarly history.  

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7 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

We should evaluate biblical figures according to the best evidence that biblical scholars have about the bible.  In that case the evidence doesn't exist to support historicity for much of the bible.  Pseudepigrapha and midrashic treatment of texts are common.   A huge problem is when people bring an expectation that these texts should represent history according to modern rules of scholarly history.  

I think the problem here is the elephant in the room when talking about the Book of Mormon historicity we tend to ignore how it is dependent on Biblical historicity. I believe that certain Biblical figures and events have to be historical in order for the Book of Mormon to be historical. Is it possible to believe in a mythological Abraham, tower of Babel, Moses, Exodus, and so on, and still hold a to a literal Book of Mormon?

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8 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

I think the problem here is the elephant in the room when talking about the Book of Mormon historicity we tend to ignore how it is dependent on Biblical historicity. I believe that certain Biblical figures and events have to be historical in order for the Book of Mormon to be historical. Is it possible to believe in a mythological Abraham, tower of Babel, Moses, Exodus, and so on, and still hold a to a literal Book of Mormon?

I've heard this point before, but I'm not sure I understand, can you explain a little more.  Why does the BoM referencing biblical figures, require that those figures were also historical?  The NT does the same thing, having Jesus refer to biblical figures, but I'm not sure why those references need to carry an assumption of historicity.  Wouldn't this problem also apply to the NT? 

I'm not convinced this is a problem for either the BoM or the NT, but I'd like to understand why you think it is.  Thanks

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11 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

I think the problem here is the elephant in the room when talking about the Book of Mormon historicity we tend to ignore how it is dependent on Biblical historicity. I believe that certain Biblical figures and events have to be historical in order for the Book of Mormon to be historical. Is it possible to believe in a mythological Abraham, tower of Babel, Moses, Exodus, and so on, and still hold a to a literal Book of Mormon?

Great point. I think the answer is no, for me. That's part of the analysis I do to determine if I believe the Book of Mormon is historical. It's very difficult to deconstruct your view of the Old Testament, authorship, timing, see the literary dependencies, the normal Bible criticism scholarship that is pretty mainstream now and then to hold on to BOM historicity. Even if there was a lot of evidence for the Book of Mormon (which there isn't), it's like two completely different worlds that don't match up. Fundamentalism vs a liberal-moderate view. 

 

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10 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

I think the problem here is the elephant in the room when talking about the Book of Mormon historicity we tend to ignore how it is dependent on Biblical historicity. I believe that certain Biblical figures and events have to be historical in order for the Book of Mormon to be historical. Is it possible to believe in a mythological Abraham, tower of Babel, Moses, Exodus, and so on, and still hold a to a literal Book of Mormon?

Mostly "yes"... you would just need to believe that the Lehite people believed those myths to be real (along with the Mulekites).  However, the Jaredites become a problem since they claim to have actually been there at the Tower of Babel... so the Tower can't be a myth if you believe in Book of Mormon historicity.

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14 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I've heard this point before, but I'm not sure I understand, can you explain a little more.  Why does the BoM referencing biblical figures, require that those figures were also historical?  The NT does the same thing, having Jesus refer to biblical figures, but I'm not sure why those references need to carry an assumption of historicity.  Wouldn't this problem also apply to the NT? 

I'm not convinced this is a problem for either the BoM or the NT, but I'd like to understand why you think it is.  Thanks

For me it's not so much referencing Bible figures as it is the entire world view of highly detailed Christianity, concept that there would even be a Brass plates, concept that ancient people in Adam's time or Noah's time or Abraham's or Moses' or even Paul's(!) that even remotely resembled what is portrayed in the Book of Mormon.  These are macro, structural issues that for me would loom large, even if there was external BOM evidence and everything else in the restoration was super clean.

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6 minutes ago, churchistrue said:

For me it's not so much referencing Bible figures as it is the entire world view of highly detailed Christianity, concept that there would even be a Brass plates, concept that ancient people in Adam's time or Noah's time or Abraham's or Moses' or even Paul's(!) that even remotely resembled what is portrayed in the Book of Mormon.  These are macro, structural issues that for me would loom large, even if there was external BOM evidence and everything else in the restoration was super clean.

Ok, I was thinking more along the lines that assuming that the bible and its events aren't historical, doesn't necessarily have a direct impact on the BoM question.  I'm thinking the people around 600 B.C.E. didn't really have any way of knowing whether Moses, Adam, or Abraham were historical figures.  They likely didn't even have an expectation of historicity like we have today.  Scholars tell us that most of these stories were likely influenced by other myths in the ancient world and were passed down for generations using oral tradition.  So I can see a scenario where someone could view the BoM as historical, but not have the same expectation for much of the bible.  Perhaps that's just me.  

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4 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Ok, I was thinking more along the lines that assuming that the bible and its events aren't historical, doesn't necessarily have a direct impact on the BoM question.  I'm thinking the people around 600 B.C.E. didn't really have any way of knowing whether Moses, Adam, or Abraham were historical figures.  They likely didn't even have an expectation of historicity like we have today.  Scholars tell us that most of these stories were likely influenced by other myths in the ancient world and were passed down for generations using oral tradition.  So I can see a scenario where someone could view the BoM as historical, but not have the same expectation for much of the bible.  Perhaps that's just me.  

Agree. Criticism of BOM historicity that misses this nuance is a shallow criticism, imo.

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I have a TBM viewpoint on this. I believe that for Joseph Smith to be what he claimed to be and for the theological claims of the Church of Jesus Xhrist of Latter-Day Saints to be true, the Book of Mormon must of necessity be historically true. And, as I have stated before, I am a Heber J. Grant type of TBM in that I believe most fervently that eventually all of those truth claims will be revealed to be true at some point in time either on this side of the Millennium or the other. Some of you may live to see that but I expect that I will not. Nevertheless, we all will eventually see it.

Glenn

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18 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I've heard this point before, but I'm not sure I understand, can you explain a little more.  Why does the BoM referencing biblical figures, require that those figures were also historical?  The NT does the same thing, having Jesus refer to biblical figures, but I'm not sure why those references need to carry an assumption of historicity.  Wouldn't this problem also apply to the NT? 

I'm not convinced this is a problem for either the BoM or the NT, but I'd like to understand why you think it is.  Thanks

I believe the historical problems carry throughout the NT also. 

If Biblical patriarchs didn't exist, who is it exactly that is visiting Joseph Smith here and why?

Quote

After this vision closed, Joseph and Oliver saw three separate visions in which ancient prophets appeared to them to restore priesthood keys necessary for the latter-day work of the Lord. The prophet Moses appeared and committed to them “the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth.” Elias came and committed to them “the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham.” (See D&C 110:11–12.)

Then, in another glorious vision, Joseph and Oliver saw the prophet Elijah (see D&C 110:13–16). The coming of Elijah was so important that the ancient prophet Malachi had prophesied of it centuries earlier, and the Savior had repeated the prophecy to the Nephites (see Malachi 4:5–6; 3 Nephi 25:5–6; 26:1–2). Elijah came to commit to Joseph and Oliver the keys of sealing—the power to bind and validate in the heavens all ordinances performed on the earth. The restoration of the sealing power was necessary to prepare the world for the Savior’s Second Coming, for without it, “the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming” (Joseph Smith—History 1:39).

Elijah and the Restoration of the Sealing Keys

I believe the Book of Mormon is a story about descendants of Abraham and the continuation of the priesthood he held. If Abraham and the prophets that followed him were myths as well as the many stories surrounding his descendants, then how can the stories of Jaradites and Lehites be anything other than mythological? So that would mean that God inspired  a  real Lehi to take a fictional account of history with him to the Americas and from then on it is all literal? And then God uses fictional characters later on to restore real priesthood authority to Joseph Smith?  If Israelites are mythological why are we still proclaiming which tribe people came from in patriarchal blessings. Why/how are there priesthoods like Aaronic or Melchizedek or even a patriarchal if these figures didn't exist?

 

I think Biblical historicity is foundational to the Book of Mormon and the LDS claims to priesthood authority.

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2 hours ago, The Nehor said:

An absolute statement.

The Jedi were Sith all along!

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1 hour ago, CA Steve said:

I believe the historical problems carry throughout the NT also. 

If Biblical patriarchs didn't exist, who is it exactly that is visiting Joseph Smith here and why?

Someone can see these as dreams and visions rather than visitations.   In that very example you share Joseph describes Elias and Elijiah as two distinctly different individuals because of the assumptions he brings to his interpretation of biblical text. (They were the same person).  None of these characters in the text have to be historical if we're talking about Joseph having a vision about them.  

1 hour ago, CA Steve said:

I believe the Book of Mormon is a story about descendants of Abraham and the continuation of the priesthood he held. If Abraham and the prophets that followed him were myths as well as the many stories surrounding his descendants, then how can the stories of Jaradites and Lehites be anything other than mythological? So that would mean that God inspired  a  real Lehi to take a fictional account of history with him to the Americas and from then on it is all literal? And then God uses fictional characters later on to restore real priesthood authority to Joseph Smith?  If Israelites are mythological why are we still proclaiming which tribe people came from in patriarchal blessings. Why/how are there priesthoods like Aaronic or Melchizedek or even a patriarchal if these figures didn't exist?

I think Biblical historicity is foundational to the Book of Mormon and the LDS claims to priesthood authority.

The BoM really doesn't get into the later Mormon theology around priesthood at all, and I think you're reading later anachronistic theological ideas about priesthood authority back on the BoM text.  I would argue that priesthood authority didn't develop to be an issue of concern until a few years after 1829 and the church was experiencing challenges to authority.   

What if all of these characters weren't historical?  I personally don't have a problem with that as I see value in some of the metaphors of religion.  The emphasis on priesthood authority doesn't strike me as a very inspirational idea that motivates me to be a better person.  It feels to me like the claim to God's authority is used more for divisive purposes than for doing good in this world.  

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4 hours ago, churchistrue said:

https://www.churchistrue.com/blog/stephen-smoot-on-the-imperative-for-book-of-mormon-historicity/

Most here are probably familiar with Stephen Smoot's 2013 article on the Imperative for a historical Book of Mormon. https://interpreterfoundation.org/blog-the-imperative-for-a-historical-book-of-mormon/

I wrote up a reply, summarizing my disagreements with his approach, and the reasons why I see that taking a non-historical Book of Mormon should be accepted. I'm not trying to tear down belief in a historical Book of Mormon. But I'd like to normalize the process within Mormonism that is somewhat common in other religions, which is to move to metaphorical model of scripture when science and modern scholarship is pushing some people away from literal belief.

This section covers the gist of it.

 

Integrity of Joseph Smith

The main point Smoot makes in all of this is that the Book of Mormon very clearly states what it is and Joseph Smith clearly stated how it came about: Angel Moroni, ancient gold plates, etc. If we consider the Book of Mormon non-historical, then we must answer why the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith stated otherwise. We must consider Joseph Smith a fraud and a liar or crazy and deluded. All or nothing. No middle ground. If we imply he could have been lying or deluded about these angelic visits and gold plates, then his integrity is gone, and we can’t trust him for anything. He can’t be a prophet.

  1. No, we don’t have to answer that. There are many gospel questions we simply don’t have the answer for. It’s OK to say while I don’t believe the Book of Mormon is historical, I believe Joseph was a prophet, and I neither think he was fraudulent nor deluded, and I have no idea how or why the Book of Mormon was produced the way it was. If critics tell us, “if you believe Jesus Christ was resurrected, you have to tell me scientifically how it happened”, we can say “no idea, I just believe.” If critics demand to know the logic of why we say God answers prayers and is active in our lives yet he’s allowing children to be abused and other atrocities in the world, it’s OK for us to not have a perfect answer for that. Stephen himself says “there are very strange passages in the Book of Mormon that we can’t fully explain or account for today”. We don’t need to explain everything.
  2. Unfortunately, Joseph Smith’s character is not impeccable. It is a very dangerous argument to make it an all or nothing proposition, because a critic can easily turn this around on any number of issues, such as: polygamy, Book of Abraham, Kinderhook Plates, Zelph, Adam-ondi-Ahman, Kirtland Banking scandal, etc. I don’t think we want to draw a line in the sand and say “Joseph was very clear that an angel with drawn sword commanded him to take many girls in marriage, if he was lying or deluded about that, then EVERYTHING else he revealed is suspect.” “Joseph was clear that he was translating an ancient record written about Abraham. If he was lying or deluded about that, then we can’t trust ANYTHING he did.” Why would God choose Joseph Smith to be the prophet if he did xyz? Critics constantly ask that question, and the perfectly fine answer from Mormon Apologists is “prophets aren’t perfect and you can’t answer for God why he does something a certain way or who he chooses to be prophet.”
  3. There are some alternatives or middle ground that I think are reasonable. Maybe Joseph had a powerful spiritual experience, revelation rushing through his brain, an interaction with God, he was responsible to bring this message to the world. What a huge responsibility. Maybe God didn’t micromanage the process other than to sear in his mind the message and the responsibility. Maybe in a way scholar Ann Taves originally theorized, God transformed plates and divinely sanctioned them in a process similar to the Brother of Jared’s 16 stones. Maybe Joseph made some mistakes along the way. Only One is perfect. Our scriptures are full of stories of prophets completely mucking it up. I’m not saying Joseph did, but it would be OK if he did. There are some middle ground possibilities.

 

 

To paraphrase Marcus Borg, taking the BoM seriously does not necessitate taking it literally. Unfortunately, mainstream Mormonism is beholden to a literal reading of the BoM and I fear dropping that literalism would be catastrophic. The church puts enormous emphasis on the source of an idea or teaching (ie, who is doing the teaching), and suggesting that the BoM is not historical would discredit (to one degree or another) too many approved sources. 

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1 hour ago, Gray said:

The Jedi were Sith all along!

Probably.

it goes with the old quote:

”All generalizations are useless including this one.”

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1 hour ago, not_my_real_name said:

To paraphrase Marcus Borg, taking the BoM seriously does not necessitate taking it literally. Unfortunately, mainstream Mormonism is beholden to a literal reading of the BoM and I fear dropping that literalism would be catastrophic. The church puts enormous emphasis on the source of an idea or teaching (ie, who is doing the teaching), and suggesting that the BoM is not historical would discredit (to one degree or another) too many approved sources. 

Fair points.  I think this is an accurate assessment of where the church is right now.

However... I have started noticing an increased use of the term "revealed" in place of "translated" when it comes to describing the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.  I'm not suggesting that this type of terminology change is anywhere close to a tipping point but it does seem to be trending (based solely on personal observation).  And, IMO, this is the first step* to moving toward a non-literal/historical acceptance.

 

*Actually, it might be the second step.  The first might have been the more public acknowledgement of the seer stone as the means of receiving the Book of Mormon rather than the images that were (are?) more commonly used depicting Joseph Smith translating directly from the plates.

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3 hours ago, rockpond said:

Mostly "yes"... you would just need to believe that the Lehite people believed those myths to be real (along with the Mulekites).  However, the Jaredites become a problem since they claim to have actually been there at the Tower of Babel... so the Tower can't be a myth if you believe in Book of Mormon historicity.

Just pointing out the Book of Mormon never uses the label " Tower of Babel" so we should probably be careful not to use the current biblical story as the identical version or foundation for the BoM version or we may bring inappropriate assumptions to it (I am not saying there were two such events in history, but simply that we should treat them as separate myths---using this term technically, not to mean made up story---from different cultures translated by someone familiar with the biblical version if we take the text as the authority).  I see it as somewhat similar to the use of Isaiah in Nephi, we need to not assume we understand Nephi's version if we have studied the biblical version because there are differences.

Also I don't see the problem with assuming the Jaredite story is an origin myth just because it is more detailed or even written as an eyewitness story if one assumes the info was from records (and not from a vision that would be more or less a divine 'news video ').  The authors were not writing a modern history text, but an ancient religious one and therefore the story would have been perceived and then crafted to serve a religious purpose (again if we are taking the text to be what it says it is).

This has been discussed before and Robert Smith has been effective in explaining the reasons to treat them differently imo.

http://www.mormondialogue.org/topic/67183-the-book-of-mormon-requires-that-the-tower-of-babel-was-real/?do=findComment&comment=1209599926

 

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3 minutes ago, Calm said:

Just pointing out the Book of Mormon never uses the label " Tower of Babel" so we should probably be careful not to use the current biblical story as the identical version or foundation for the BoM version or we may bring inappropriate assumptions to it (I am not saying there were two such events in history, but simply that we should treat them as separate myths---using this term technically, not to mean made up story---from different cultures translated by someone familiar with the biblical version if we take the text as the authority).  I see it as somewhat similar to the use of Isaiah in Nephi, we need to not assume we understand Nephi's version if we have studied the biblical version because there are differences.

Also I don't see the problem with assuming the Jaredite story is an origin myth just because it is more detailed or even written as an eyewitness story if one assumes the info was from records (and not from a vision that would be more or less a divine 'news video ').  The authors were not writing a modern history text, but an ancient religious one and therefore the story would have been perceived and then crafted to serve a religious purpose (again if we are taking the text to be what it says it is).

This has been discussed before and Robert Smith has been effective in explaining the reasons to treat them differently imo.

http://www.mormondialogue.org/topic/67183-the-book-of-mormon-requires-that-the-tower-of-babel-was-real/?do=findComment&comment=1209599926

 

Excellent points.  I can get on board with that.

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