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JarMan

Joseph Smith: The World's Greatest Guesser

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A recent Interpreter article entitled "Joseph Smith: The World’s Greatest Guesser (A Bayesian Statistical Analysis of Positive and Negative Correspondences between the Book of Mormon and The Maya)" identifies 131 purported similarities between the Book of Mormon and Michael Coe's book The Maya. In addition, 6 negative correspondences are identified. This paper assigns a probability to each of the 131 correspondences based on the likelihood Joseph Smith could have guessed it and multiplies them all together. Then it divides by the 6 negative correspondence probabilities (which they claim to estimate conservatively) to come up with a final probability that Joseph made it all up. Multiplying by a billion to one they come up with a combined likelihood that the skeptical position (Joseph made it all up) is correct as an astonishingly low 4.2 X 10^-132 (that's 4.2 times 10 to the minus 132 power or a decimal followed by 131 leading 0's followed by 42). They identify an additional 12 negative correspondences from Coe's Dialogue article and statements Coe made on John Dehlin's podcast but do not calculate them into the final number.

Any statistical analysis that comes up with such a vanishingly low probability should be suspect from the start. There are a host of legitimate criticisms that could be leveled at this paper but I want to focus on just one angle. The proposed correspondences are almost all applicable to history in general, and to ancient Mediterranean history, in particular. So a person with knowledge of ancient Mediterranean history (Phoenicia, Greece, Rome, etc.), for example, could have come up with the vast majority, if not all, of the 131 proposed correspondences. In addition, the 6 negative correspondences from Coe's book as well as the 12 from his article and podcasts are all explainable by and correlate positively to the Book of Mormon being written by someone with a knowledge of ancient Mediterranean history.

I'm not claiming Joseph Smith had the knowledge to do this. In fact, I strongly reject the idea that Joseph came up with the Book of Mormon. However, I think someone with a very good knowledge of ancient history (as well as the bible and a few other subject matters) could have written the Book of Mormon. By focusing on ancient Mesoamerica the authors of this article have completely missed the more obvious and more numerous similarities with the ancient Mediterranean world. As such, the entire premise of the paper (the Book of Mormon is historical) is severely undermined.

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17 minutes ago, JarMan said:

However, I think someone with a very good knowledge of ancient history (as well as the bible and a few other subject matters) could have written the Book of Mormon.

What becomes apparent is that in Joseph's time you would have to be wealthy to gain such knowledge, no offence intended to America but in the time period the greater libraries would have been overseas.

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A comment at the Interpreter site claims this was peer reviewed both by statistician and by Mesoamerica expert?

 

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3 hours ago, churchistrue said:

A comment at the Interpreter site claims this was peer reviewed both by statistician and by Mesoamerica expert?

Yup. I guess peer reviews are useful only to the extent they confirm biases.

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12 hours ago, churchistrue said:

A comment at the Interpreter site claims this was peer reviewed both by statistician and by Mesoamerica expert?

 

The general statistical concept is sound. And I have no reason to reject the Mesoamerican descriptions. But there are some obvious errors having to do with the Book of Mormon and Biblical history. For example, in Section 1.18 of Appendix A the paper claims "the doings of the kings were kept separately from the rest of the history of a people" in regard to the Book of Mormon. This is an incorrect description of the Book of Mormon records. The records of the kings were part of the large plates which contained a record of the secular history of the people. So the record of the kings was kept with the record of the people, not separately, as claimed.

Section 1.19 claims the ancient Romans did not incorporate the native leaders into the power structure. While this may be generally true, their are obvious exceptions such as Herod, which is an obvious biblical example. Another example that immediately comes to mind is the series of kings in Numidea or Mauritania including Juba I, Juba II and Ptolemy. Both 1.18 and 1.19 were given the highest rating of improbability (2%).

In addition, there are some bizarre arguments based on the use of certain words. For example, Section 1.26 focuses on the word "seating" to show a correspondence regarding kings rising to power. It's true that both Coe and the Book of Mormon use "seating" to describe kings coming to power. Given that this is a normal use of the word, it is unclear why the use of "seating" is thought to be significant. Section 1.33 makes a similar claim based on the word "possess" in relation to lands that are ruled by a dominant power. The paper does nothing to show why this might be an unexpected use of the word. Even if they could make that case, it would be a meaningless distinction unless they were trying to show that Coe's book was based on the Book of Mormon. 

There are many more criticisms that can be made. I've come to really enjoy the weekly publications in the Interpreter and, in general, they have been of very high quality. This is no doubt related to the peer review process (not to mention the quality of authors they attract). But they've let a questionable work slip through here.

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16 hours ago, RevTestament said:

The answer is staring everyone in the face. It is obvious that Michael Coe used the Book of Mormon as a background to write his book The Maya. It is virtually statistically impossible for him to get that many correspondences right otherwise. He is just using his public pronounced criticism of the Book of Mormon as a cover...  😎

Since, as some scholars have observed, the story of the Jaredites is a miniature version of Nephite history (including the final battle of extermination at the same place in each story), the book Coe first derived from the Book of Mormon must necessarily be his The Olmec World: Ritual and Rulership (Princeton/Abrams, 1996).  Indeed, Bayesian probability demonstrates without question that Coe built his career on the one book as a microcosm of the other, all disguised as authentic archeology of Mesoamerica, of which he is the undisputed doyen.

Since history is not facts, but interpretation of facts, Coe's interpretive structure was built specifically by him to mirror the Book of Mormon, although in public he has had to carefully mask that affect.

However, all that has really been an effort to cover Coe's actual, professional opinion, which is that Mesoamerican culture was derived entirely from ancient Kampuchea (Cambodia) by diffusion across the Pacific Ocean.  8)

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22 hours ago, JarMan said:

.................................... a person with knowledge of ancient Mediterranean history (Phoenicia, Greece, Rome, etc.), for example, could have come up with the vast majority, if not all, of the 131 proposed correspondences. In addition, the 6 negative correspondences from Coe's book as well as the 12 from his article and podcasts are all explainable by and correlate positively to the Book of Mormon being written by someone with a knowledge of ancient Mediterranean history.............................................

Au contraire, mon frère JarMan.  When Rajah Manchou hears of this, he will set us all straight with proof positive that it is Southeast Asia to which we must turn for the tightest set of Bayesian correspondences.

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On 5/4/2019 at 4:27 AM, JarMan said:

I'm not claiming Joseph Smith had the knowledge to do this. In fact, I strongly reject the idea that Joseph came up with the Book of Mormon. However, I think someone with a very good . . .

Like as in what is know today, rather than what was known in the early 1800's

On 5/4/2019 at 4:27 AM, JarMan said:

 . . . knowledge of ancient history (as well as the bible and a few other subject matters) could have written the Book of Mormon. By focusing on ancient Mesoamerica the authors of this article have completely missed the more obvious and more numerous similarities with the ancient Mediterranean world. As such, the entire premise of the paper (the Book of Mormon is historical) is severely undermined.

Presentism.

Plus write in such a short time without significant edits.  Ha!

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1 minute ago, Vance said:

Plus write in such a short time without significant edits.  Ha!

If Joseph really wrote the BofM, he had years to do it (not just the short time after he reported receiving the Gold Plates). 

(I don't believe he wrote it....but the "short time" reason isn't valid, IMO.)

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One of the problems here is that the events in the BOM didn’t occur anywhere near Mesoamerica. Moroni lived in New York. 

This is like comparing the BOM to a history book about Australian Aboriginals, finding similarities (because you’re looking for them), and then concluding that the BOM is true. 

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5 hours ago, ALarson said:

If Joseph really wrote the BofM, he had years to do it (not just the short time after he reported receiving the Gold Plates). 

(I don't believe he wrote it....but the "short time" reason isn't valid, IMO.)

That depends on whether you are only counting elapsed time or actual time available to him to work on it.

Surviving alone in that time and under his conditions required a lot of his time.  He was no trust fund baby.

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15 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Au contraire, mon frère JarMan.  When Rajah Manchou hears of this, he will set us all straight with proof positive that it is Southeast Asia to which we must turn for the tightest set of Bayesian correspondences.

I have no doubt a Southeast Asian setting will have almost all of the same correspondences cited by the Interpreter article. Consider these 33 claimed political correspondences:

Fundamental level of political organization is the independent city-state, “Capital” or leading city-state dominates a cluster of other communities, Some subordinate city-states shift their allegiance to a different “capital” city, Complex state institutions, Many cities exist, City of Laman (Lamanai) “occcupied from earliest times”, Parts of the land were very densely settled, Large-scale public works,  Some rulers live in luxury, Elaborate thrones, Royalty exists, with attendant palaces, courts and nobles, Royal or elite marriages for political purposes, Feasting for political purposes, Gifts to the king for political advantage, Political factions organize around a member of the elite, Foreigners move in and take over government, often as family dynasties, City administrative area with bureaucrats and aristocrats, Records kept specifically of the reigns of the kings, Native leaders incorporated in power structure after subjugation, Tribute required of subjects, Limited number of important patrilineages, King and “king elect”, There are captains serving kings, Political power is exercised by family dynasties, Kings rule over subordinate provincial or territorial rulers, some of noble blood (subkings), “Seating” means accession to political power, Separation of civil and religious authority, Those of noble birth aspire to power, Royal courts imitate their enemies, Royal courts function as “great households”, Candidates for high office had to possess hidden knowledge, Abrupt breaks in dynasties, Subservient peoples are said to “possess” the land while ruled by a dominant power

What civilization has ever existed for a thousand years that doesn't have at least 25 of these 33 correspondences? I would think most would have at least 30. The remaining 98 correspondences in the categories Cultural and Social, Religious, Military, Physical and Geographical, Technological and Miscellaneous are just as general. What the paper really shows is how well the Book of Mormon reflects real civilizations, in general. It does not show that there is anything particularly Mesoamerican about the Book of Mormon.

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10 hours ago, Vance said:

Like as in what is know today, rather than what was known in the early 1800's

Presentism.

Plus write in such a short time without significant edits.  Ha!

There was enough known about ancient civilizations in Renaissance times or even earlier to describe virtually every aspect of Book of Mormon civilizations. By about the 1630's all of the doctrinal issues had been described, as far as I can tell. It could have been written any time after that and I would assume the process took years to complete. Joseph merely needed to read it.

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9 hours ago, JarMan said:

What the paper really shows is how well the Book of Mormon reflects real civilizations, in general.

This points to a basic problem with the paper's basic methodology of multiplying a lot of probabilities together. You can only do that if the probabilities are all independent. If instead all the different features of Book of Mormon civilizations represent one common feature—"be like a typical ancient civilization"—then only one probability is really involved.

You can estimate the probability that Joseph Smith would have an accurate picture of ancient civilization as high or low. It can't be too low, because he at least knew the Bible and the Bible portrays a lot of typical features of ancient civilizations.

Even if you decide that probability is pretty low, however, you don't get to multiply a hundred probabilities together as if every little feature of Book of Mormon society would represent a separate and unrelated guess on Smith's part.

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, Vance said:

That depends on whether you are only counting elapsed time or actual time available to him to work on it.

Surviving alone in that time and under his conditions required a lot of his time.  He was no trust fund baby.

He had years (7 or 8 ) if he started thinking about writing a new Bible or book even if it was just from when he reported the first visit by Moroni.  

So, the "not enough time" argument does not work, IMO.  If people believe he lied about being the author, then why wouldn't he have lied about when he started writing it?

Edited by ALarson
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20 hours ago, Vance said:

That depends on whether you are only counting elapsed time or actual time available to him to work on it.

Surviving alone in that time and under his conditions required a lot of his time.  He was no trust fund baby.

Nor was he a Fort Nite baby, nor anyone else in that time frame. They had plenty of time for creativity because there wasn't anything else besides their field work etc. Also, Joseph was a storyteller, and the amazing books or plays or poetry that were written in his day says a lot as well. The fact that he plagiarized a book to get the JST tells me he probably did the same for the BOM and used what was around him. I'm not saying he wasn't inspired though.

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/16.Best_Books_of_the_19th_Century

 

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3 hours ago, Tacenda said:

Nor was he a Fort Nite baby, nor anyone else in that time frame. They had plenty of time for creativity because there wasn't anything else besides their field work etc. Also, Joseph was a storyteller, and the amazing books or plays or poetry that were written in his day says a lot as well. The fact that he plagiarized a book to get the JST tells me he probably did the same for the BOM and used what was around him. I'm not saying he wasn't inspired though.

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/16.Best_Books_of_the_19th_Century

 

Joseph Smith plagiarized nothing.

It’s the LDS Intellectuals, so-called, who plagiarized a Mesa Two-Cumorah geography theory from the RLDS Church.

See Alan C. Miner’s blog:

https://stepbystep.alancminer.com/node/2268

At the end he mentions RLDS scholar Louis Edward Hills geography theory as the first to propose the Hill Cumorah outside of New York, the Two-Cumorah theory:

A member of the RLDS Church, Louis Edward Hills is credited with being the first to develop a Book of Mormon geography model that was strictly limited to Mexico and Central America..”

For him the hill Cumorah was in central Mexico, the first place ever suggested other than New York. In the preface of his book he states the following: (partial quote follows) “I have tried to make the Book itself give to us the much-to-be-desired map.” “

Here’s Hills’ 1917 map second page in yellow, in this two-page article at the RLDS site Quetzal Codex:

https://www.bomf.org/quetzal-codex.html  “A Review of Glenn Scott’s Map” article by Shirley R. Heater, (deceased).

https://nebula.wsimg.com/7bb9e706664eb88ffcc243bf714261ca?AccessKeyId=AA525AED21BB7CA23BE6&disposition=0&alloworigin=1

 

Who’s Alan C Miner? Dentist, likely retired, former owner of Book of Mormon Central’s headquarters in Springville, UT per Utah County land records: http://www.utahcounty.gov/LandRecords/property.asp?av_serial=523080002

Who’s the owner now per 2019, Kirk Magleby, owner of BMAF.org which joined with Jack Welch at Book of Mormon Central. That’s their dump of a building Headquarters for the LDS Intellectuals promoting a LGT Two-Cumorah geography theory plagiarized from the RLDS Church. ALL INFO IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN.

Here’s BMAF honoring Shirley R. Heater before her passing in 2017: http://www.bmaf.org/bio/shirley_heater

Also: http://restornews.blogspot.com/2017/04/shirley-r-heater-obituary.html

All fine people, just a little confused on Book of Mormon geography.

But proof LDS Scholars plagiarized from RLDS Scholars the Mesoamerica Two-Cumorah geography theory.

Now check out this nonsense:

A book at the UofTexas at Austin, correlates with “Mormon’s Codex.”

“Correspondences between the Kaqchikel Chronicles and Mormon’s Codex“

http://www.bmaf.org/node/501

And on Magleby’s blog, the exact same article:

http://bookofmormonresources.blogspot.com/2015/02/kaqchikel-chronicles.html

Bwah ha ha!  Talk about off base, from a made-up 1917 RLDS joke.

LDS Intellectuals which created F.A.R.M.S., BMAF, Book of Mormon Central, The Mormon Interpreter - all plagiarized from RLDS Louis E. Hills Book of Mormon geography in 1917 from his Book, mentioned here in Terrly L. Givens book “By The Hand of Mormon” on google books, in the footnotes, next to John L. Sorenson. Footnotes, 31 & 32:

https://books.google.com/books?id=g2bcuMvxMBgC&pg=PA277&lpg=PA277&dq=louis+e+hills+1917+book&source=bl&ots=gjgyFuzeFt&sig=ACfU3U05rG9hrKttHDOp6PciMURkWMrgBQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjI4rL8xIfiAhXS854KHXW5Db8Q6AEwGnoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=louis e hills 1917 book&f=false

Joseph Smith plagiarized from a knowledge of Mesoamerica? nonsense!

Again, It’s RLDS Scholars who came up with the Meso Two-Cumorah theory and LDS Scholars who plagiarized and admittedly worked with current RLDS scholars, one being deceased Shirley R. Heater who published Quetzal Codex articles. 

Now they’re trying to fill their cruise ship to Belize, ha ha ha with a link to this at the top of the home page of BookofMormonCentral: https://bookofmormoncentral.org/events/book-of-mormon-central-cruise-with-john-w-welch

What a hoax.

Here’s Oliver Cowdery stating it was a “fact” the final Jaredite and Nephite battles occurred at the Hill Cumorah in New York:

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1834-1836/90

Here’s Book of Mormon Central telling you Oliver Cowdery was a liar:

https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/knowhy/how-are-oliver-cowderys-messenger-and-advocate-letters-to-be-understood-and-used

Now waste your money and time and go on a cruise to Belize to MesoamericaLand with BookofMormonCentral to learn more about the RLDS Louis E Hills two-cumorah geography theory which they plagiarized.

Next, you can join the members of the Community of Christ (RLDS) of Buckner, Jackson County, MO an expedition to the Hill Cumorah in Mexico and try to find Mormon’s records including Ether’s 24 gold plates. 

https://www.hillcumorahexpeditionteam.com/ourbeginning.html

Gold is currently approx. $1,280 USD per ounce. 

THINK HOW RICH YOU’ll be if you can sneak them back to the US across the US/Mexico border. Or maybe you can melt them down in Mexico and sell the lump of Gold for cash.

Ha ha ha!

You need to use more civility in your posting if you wish to post on this board.

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1 hour ago, Burnside said:

Joseph Smith plagiarized nothing.

It’s the LDS Intellectuals, so-called, who plagiarized a Mesa Two-Cumorah geography theory from the RLDS Church.

See Alan C. Miner’s blog:

https://stepbystep.alancminer.com/node/2268

At the end he mentions RLDS scholar Louis Edward Hills geography theory as the first to propose the Hill Cumorah outside of New York, the Two-Cumorah theory:

A member of the RLDS Church, Louis Edward Hills is credited with being the first to develop a Book of Mormon geography model that was strictly limited to Mexico and Central America..”

For him the hill Cumorah was in central Mexico, the first place ever suggested other than New York. In the preface of his book he states the following: (partial quote follows) “I have tried to make the Book itself give to us the much-to-be-desired map.” “

Here’s Hills’ 1917 map second page in yellow, in this two-page article at the RLDS site Quetzal Codex:

https://www.bomf.org/quetzal-codex.html  “A Review of Glenn Scott’s Map” article by Shirley R. Heater, (deceased).

https://nebula.wsimg.com/7bb9e706664eb88ffcc243bf714261ca?AccessKeyId=AA525AED21BB7CA23BE6&disposition=0&alloworigin=1

 

Who’s Alan C Miner? Dentist, likely retired, former owner of Book of Mormon Central’s headquarters in Springville, UT per Utah County land records: http://www.utahcounty.gov/LandRecords/property.asp?av_serial=523080002

Who’s the owner now per 2019, Kirk Magleby, owner of BMAF.org which joined with Jack Welch at Book of Mormon Central. That’s their dump of a building Headquarters for the LDS Intellectuals promoting a LGT Two-Cumorah geography theory plagiarized from the RLDS Church. ALL INFO IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN.

Here’s BMAF honoring Shirley R. Heater before her passing in 2017: http://www.bmaf.org/bio/shirley_heater

Also: http://restornews.blogspot.com/2017/04/shirley-r-heater-obituary.html

All fine people, just a little confused on Book of Mormon geography.

But proof LDS Scholars plagiarized from RLDS Scholars the Mesoamerica Two-Cumorah geography theory.

Now check out this nonsense:

A book at the UofTexas at Austin, correlates with “Mormon’s Codex.”

“Correspondences between the Kaqchikel Chronicles and Mormon’s Codex“

http://www.bmaf.org/node/501

And on Magleby’s blog, the exact same article:

http://bookofmormonresources.blogspot.com/2015/02/kaqchikel-chronicles.html

Bwah ha ha!  Talk about off base, from a made-up 1917 RLDS joke.

LDS Intellectuals which created F.A.R.M.S., BMAF, Book of Mormon Central, The Mormon Interpreter - all plagiarized from RLDS Louis E. Hills Book of Mormon geography in 1917 from his Book, mentioned here in Terrly L. Givens book “By The Hand of Mormon” on google books, in the footnotes, next to John L. Sorenson. Footnotes, 31 & 32:

https://books.google.com/books?id=g2bcuMvxMBgC&pg=PA277&lpg=PA277&dq=louis+e+hills+1917+book&source=bl&ots=gjgyFuzeFt&sig=ACfU3U05rG9hrKttHDOp6PciMURkWMrgBQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjI4rL8xIfiAhXS854KHXW5Db8Q6AEwGnoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=louis e hills 1917 book&f=false

Joseph Smith plagiarized from a knowledge of Mesoamerica? nonsense!

Again, It’s RLDS Scholars who came up with the Meso Two-Cumorah theory and LDS Scholars who plagiarized and admittedly worked with current RLDS scholars, one being deceased Shirley R. Heater who published Quetzal Codex articles. 

Now they’re trying to fill their cruise ship to Belize, ha ha ha with a link to this at the top of the home page of BookofMormonCentral: https://bookofmormoncentral.org/events/book-of-mormon-central-cruise-with-john-w-welch

What a hoax.

Here’s Oliver Cowdery stating it was a “fact” the final Jaredite and Nephite battles occurred at the Hill Cumorah in New York:

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1834-1836/90

Here’s Book of Mormon Central telling you Oliver Cowdery was a liar:

https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/knowhy/how-are-oliver-cowderys-messenger-and-advocate-letters-to-be-understood-and-used

Now waste your money and time and go on a cruise to Belize to MesoamericaLand with BookofMormonCentral to learn more about the RLDS Louis E Hills two-cumorah geography theory which they plagiarized.

Next, you can join the members of the Community of Christ (RLDS) of Buckner, Jackson County, MO an expedition to the Hill Cumorah in Mexico and try to find Mormon’s records including Ether’s 24 gold plates. 

https://www.hillcumorahexpeditionteam.com/ourbeginning.html

Gold is currently approx. $1,280 USD per ounce. 

THINK HOW RICH YOU’ll be if you can sneak them back to the US across the US/Mexico border. Or maybe you can melt them down in Mexico and sell the lump of Gold for cash.

Ha ha ha!

You need to use more civility in your posting if you wish to post on this board.

On my! I may getting banned for defending The Prophet Joseph Smith at Mormondialogue.org against someone who claims Joseph Smith plagiarized The Book of Mormon, by pointing out the Mesoamerica Geography Theory was plagiarized from RLDS Scholars by LDS Scholars who claim Oliver Cowdery was wrong in his Letter VII on the location of the Hill Cumorah; so these LDS Scholars can still receive donations at the their Charitable 501(c)(3) Corporations and sell tickets for their cruise.

Ok. I promise next time to be real serious about it and not to laugh. Will that suffice?  

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@Burnside This thread isn’t about Book of Mormon geography. Please limit your comments in this discussion to the issue at hand. Thanks. 

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3 minutes ago, JarMan said:

@Burnside This thread isn’t about Book of Mormon geography. Please limit your comments in this discussion to the issue at hand. Thanks. 

It's probably for the better that this tangent diverts attention from that Interpreter article.

 

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1 hour ago, churchistrue said:

It's probably for the better that this tangent diverts attention from that Interpreter article.

 

I was hoping someone would step up and defend the article. Oh well, I made comments on the Interpreter website. Maybe the Dales will respond. 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/4/2019 at 4:48 PM, Metis_LDS said:

What becomes apparent is that in Joseph's time you would have to be wealthy to gain such knowledge, no offence intended to America but in the time period the greater libraries would have been overseas.

The Smiths lived 10 miles away from one of America's greatest libraries, it also happened to be the center of Biblical Hebrew studies at the time. 

Biblical Hebrew in Colonial America: The Case of Dartmouth

PS, a cousin of the Smiths taught Hebrew there. He was America's leading expert in Hebrew in the early 19th century and literally wrote the book on Hebrew Grammar, yet he came from the same town and background (economic, genetic and geographic) as Joseph Smith Sr. He also wrote the curriculum for Dartmouth College.

This demonstrates that it was not impossible for a Smith to learn a whole lot about language, history, and geography without a lot of wealth.

On 5/4/2019 at 8:19 PM, Kenngo1969 said:

IAnd, on a related note, while it has been a looong time in coming, now, still, I eagerly await Bill Hamblin's planned intellectual biography of Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith: The Cambridge Years

Joseph Smith: The Cambridge Dartmouth Years

Edited by Rajah Manchou
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