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Joseph Smith: The World's Greatest Guesser

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1 minute ago, churchistrue said:

Are you a Rigdon Spaulding guy? 

No. I’m an early modern author guy. 

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12 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

........................ the Interpreter article is not talking about the meaning of the text, its attempting to prove the statistical likelihood of all these parallels that the author thinks are significant, in essence to prove the historical accuracy of the text.  ......................

That is not the stated purpose of the Dales, who were using Bayesian statistics to show that Coe's book on The Maya (and other comments by him) shares many close correspondences with the BofM, which only falsifies Coe's own claim that the BofM does not bear any resemblance to Native American lore.  It has nothing to do with proving historicity.  The irony is Coe's incipient denial of the contents of his own book, since he did not actually make any effort to compare any feature of ancient American culture with the BofM.

One of the co-editors of Interpreter said that "the point of the paper is to disprove Coe’s assertions, not to prove the Book of Mormon."

The Dales also compared two other books with his The Maya, namely View of the Hebrews and Manuscript Found.  In both cases, those books showed no significant parallels with ancient American culture as depicted in The Maya.  So much for silly claims that Joseph Smith had followed them or was inspired by them in any way.

Now, whether their statistical method is valid, or whether the items selected by them for comparison were distinctive and meaningful, may be legitimate questions for further analysis.  However, in the meantime, they have given the lie to Dr. Coe's own claims, out of his own mouth as it were.  The question of historicity is a wholly other issue.

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12 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

I have an interest in undertaking this myself. Attached is a paper I have posted previously on this board but with revisions and additions. (Apologies to those who have seen it before). It is an objective look at a parallelistic form that occurs many times in the Book of Mormon. I believe it is an objective example of the complexity of the text. I hope the formatting of the original is preserved because I have carefully worked it out. Feel free to shrug.

 

AN INTERESTING PARALLELISTIC FORM IN THE BOOK OF MORMON

            Anadiploid chains, stair step, and climax are related rhetorical forms that appear in the Bible. They are types of gradated parallelism in which words or phrases are placed in a ladder-like order, leading the reader carefully and methodically from point to point until a culminating conclusion or climax is reached. In this study, words or phrases that create the stairstep are bolded and the conclusion they lead to is bolded and italicized.

             Paul's use of gradated parallelism building from the suffering endured by Christians to the ecstatic reception of God’s love illustrates the effectiveness of this structure [see Gideon O. Burton, "Silva Rhetoricae" (rhetoric.byu.edu)].

Romans 5:3-5 (NIV) 

But we also rejoice in our 

sufferings, because we know that 

suffering produces 

perseverance; 

Perseverance, 

character; and 

character, 

hope. And 

hope does not disappoint us, 

because God has poured out his love into our hearts 

by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. 

Another example from the Apostle Peter:

  2 Peter 1:2-8

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

 And beside this, giving all diligence,

add to your faith 

virtue; and to

virtue

knowledge; and to 

knowledge 

temperance; and to

temperance 

patience; and to

patience

godliness; and to

godliness: 

brotherly kindness; and to

brotherly kindness 

charityFor if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.         

            Gradated parallelism is also found in the Book of Mormon.  Using Donald Parry’s Poetic Parallelisms in the The Book of Mormon: The Complete Text Reformatted (Maxwell Institute, 2007), I have identified at least twenty-five such passages. I believe the Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon are interesting because they reveal Nephite literary devices and thought patterns. Examples of gradated parallelism span the entire history of the Nephites and include a variety of speakers, from Lehi to Moroni, but there are none from Lamanite or Jaredite prophets or writers. They should be studied for the purpose of understanding Nephite thought, rather than attempting to discover similarities with ancient Hebrew writing. There can be no doubt they occur frequently in the Book of Mormon. That fact alone is worth consideration in itself. 

            The form anadiplosis, stair step, or climax most often occurs in passages that deal with the plan of salvation and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Some even allude to material that LDS readers would recognize as temple knowledge. Lehi was the first to use this form. Since later writers also used it (Nephi, Alma, Mormon, and Moroni in particular), one might assume it became imbedded in the Nephite teaching system. That it may have originated in the Old World is less intriguing than the fact that throughout their history, Nephite prophets used it as an effective rhetorical or didactic device when they taught the Plan of Salvation.

            Here is my list of climactic anadiploid chains in the Book of Mormon: 

1.    1 NEPHI 10:11                      LEHI (BY NEPHI) TO LAMAN AND LEMUEL 

2.    1 NEPHI 12: 19 - 13:5          NEPHI IN VISION SHOWN TO HIM BY AN ANGEL

3.    1 NEPHI 15: 13-20               NEPHI TO LAMAN AND LEMUEL 

4.    1 NEPHI 15:33-35                NEPHI TO LAMAN AND LEMUEL 

5.    1 NEPHI 19:2-5                     NEPHI TO READER 

6.    1 NEPHI 22:9-12                   NEPHI TO LAMAN AND LEMUEL 

7.    2 NEPHI 1:13                        LEHI TO LAMAN AND LEMUEL 

8.    2 NEPHI 9:6-9                       JACOB TO HIS PEOPLE 

9.    2 NEPHI 9:25-26                  JACOB TO HIS PEOPLE 

10. 2 NEPHI 25:4-5                     NEPHI COMMENTS ON ISAIAH TO HIS PEOPLE 

11. 2 NEPHI 31:2-3                     NEPHI TO HIS BELOVED BRETHREN 

12. MOSIAH 2:17-19                  KING BENJAMIN TO HIS PEOPLE 

13. ALMA 5:37-38                       ALMA TO PEOPLE OF ZARAHEMLA 

14. ALMA 13:22                          ALMA TO ZEEZROM 

15. ALMA 32: 11-14                    ALMA TO THE POOR ON THE HILL ONIDAH

16. ALMA 41:13-14                     ALMA TO CORIANTON 

17. ALMA 42:17-20                     ALMA TO CORIANTON 

18. ALMA 42:23                          ALMA TO CORIANTON 

19. ALMA 61:8                             PAHORAN TO MORONI 

20. HELAMAN 5:6-8                   HELAMAN TO HIS SONS 

21. MORMON 9:11-13                MORMON TO UNBELIEVERS 

22. ETHER 3: 15                         JESUS TO BROTHER OF JARED 

23. MORONI 8:25-26                  MORMON TO MORONI 

24. MORONI 10:20-23                MORONI TO THE LAMANITES 

25. MORONI 10:32-34                MORONI TO LAMANITES 

 An examination of these examples reveals some common characteristics: 

·     All examples except one make a significant doctrinal statement.

·     The examples are used as a teaching tool when something important needs to be communicated in a plain and easy to understand manner.

·     None is copied from the Bible.

·     Each example appears in an address or letter from a prophet or leader.

·     Each example is in the various prophets’ own words, not in editorial comments written by Mormon.

·     There is only one example in historical narratives (Alma 61:8).

·     Seven of the examples occur in discussions that include Abraham or the Abrahamic covenant.

·     Eight illuminate the Plan of Salvation in logical sequence.

·     At least five include teachings that faithful LDS will recognize as information addressed in the temple.

       Nephite prophets often used this structure in their communications to underscore important points with “problem” listeners such as Laman, Lemuel, Zeezrom, Corianton, unbelievers, and the Lamanites. For example, Alma’s instructions to his wayward son Corianton includes this sequential review of the process by which men are made accountable to the justice of God. Bringing men back into the presence of God at the end of their lives suggests they were there before they were born, or the pre-mortal existence in LDS theology.

Alma 42:23

...if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed. 

But God would cease to be God. 

God ceaseth not to be God,  and

mercy claimeth the penitent, and 

mercy cometh because of 

the atonement; And the

atonement bringeth to pass 

the resurrection of the dead; the

the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the 

presence of God; and thus they are restored into 

his presence, 

to be judged according to their works, 

according to the law and justice. 

            On other occasions, prophets and the Lord himself employ climax to teach important basic or new knowledge to eager learners such as Benjamin’s people, the brother of Jared, and the young boy Moroni. For example, soon after he was called to the ministry, Moroni received a letter of instructions from his father Mormon. Part of Mormon's instruction was this example of anadiplosis in which he gives a precise step-by-step outline of the process of salvation: 

Moroni 8:25-26 

And the first fruits of repentance is 

baptism; and 

baptism cometh by faith unto the

fulfilling the commandments; and the

fulfilling the commandments bringeth 

remission of sins; And the 

remission of sins bringeth 

meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of 

meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of  

the Holy Ghost, which

Comforter filleth with hope and perfect 

love, which 

love endureth by diligence unto prayer, 

until the end shall come, 

when all the saints shall dwell with God. 

  Pahoran’s letter to General Moroni (Alma 61:8) is the only example of a  non-doctrinal climactic form; however, Pahoran was communicating critical information that would dispel any suspicion in Moroni’s mind that Pahoran was a traitor. It was vital that Moroni understand exactly what the situation was back home, so in his persuasive letter Pahoran included a climactic recital of the plans of the enemy king.           

Alma 61:8

They [Nephite traitors] have got possession of the land, or the city, of Zarahemla,

and they have appointed a

king over them; and he hath written unto the

king of the Lamanites, in the which he hath joined an

alliance with him; in the which

alliance he hath agreed to

maintain the city of Zarahemla, which

maintenance he supposeth will enable the Lamanites to conquer the remainder of the land...

            These examples may indicate anadiplosis and climax were part of the Nephite educational process and language tradition. Training in Semitic parallelistic rhetoric is further indicated by the appearance of dozens of other types of parallelistic patterns used by prophets throughout the text of the Book of Mormon. Donald Parry has identified over one thousand of these patterns (see “Index of Poetic Forms by Scripture Reference, in Parry, ibid., 569-578). The following five Book of Mormon examples of gradated parallelism teach important doctrines.  They foretell the restoration of men back into the presence of God. If man is restored and brought back into the presence of God, then the doctrine of the pre-earthly existence is clearly taught in the Book of Mormon. I have included some context to show how the parallelism was used by the prophet in his instructions.

Alma 42:11-23  (Including context and parallel forms in the preceding text).

In this discourse Alma explains to his wayward son Corianton how God is a God of law, justice, repentance, and mercy.

…if it were not for the plan of redemption, (laying it aside) 

as soon as they were dead their souls were miserable, 

being cut off from the presence of the Lord.

And now, there was no means to reclaim men from this fallen state, 

which man had brought upon himself because of his own disobedience;

Therefore, according to justice, 

     the plan of redemption could not be brought about, 

           only on conditions of repentance of  men

                in this probationary state, 

                yea, this preparatory state;

         for except it were for these conditions, 

     mercy could not take effect except it should destroy

 the work of justice.     [chiasmus]

Now the work of justice could not be destroyed;  if so, God would cease to be God.

And thus we see that all mankind were fallen, 

     and they were in the grasp of justice; 

     yea, the justice of God, 

which consigned them forever to be cut off from his presence. [chiasmus]

And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about 

     except an atonement should be made; 

     therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, 

to bring about the plan of mercy, [chiasmus]

to appease the demands of justice, 

that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.

 

Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, 

     which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, 

     which was as eternal also as the life of the soul. Now, how could a man 

repent except he should 

sin? How could he 

sin if there was no 

law? How could there be a 

law save there was a 

punishment? Now, there was a 

punishment affixed, and a just

     law given, which brought remorse of conscience unto man. Now, if there was

     no law given—if a man murdered he should die—would he be 

afraid he would die if he should murder? And also, if there was

     no law given against sin men would not be 

afraid to sin. And if there was 

     no law given, if men sinned what could justice do, or mercy either,  for they would have no claim upon the creature? But there is a 

     law given, and a 

punishment affixed, and a 

     repentance granted; which 

     repentance mercy claimeth; otherwise, 

     justice claimeth the creature and executeth the 

     law, and the 

     law inflicteth the 

punishment; if not so, the works of 

     justice would be destroyed, and 

God would cease to be God. But 

God ceaseth not to be God, and

mercy claimeth the penitent, and

mercy cometh because of the

atonement; and the

atonement bringeth to pass 

the resurrection of the dead; and

the resurrection of the dead

bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are

restored into his presence, 

to be judged according to their works, 

according to the law and justice. 

 

As his life comes to a violent end, Mormon speaks to future unbelievers warning that one day they will appear before Jesus, whom they had denied.

Mormon 9:11-13

And now, if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, 

and in whom there is shadow of changing, 

then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.

But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, 

even the God of Abraham, 

and the God of Isaac, 

and the God of Jacob; 

and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.

Behold, he created 

Adam,  and by 

Adam came 

the fall of man. And because of the 

fall of man came

Jesus Christ, even the Father and the Son; and because of 

Jesus Christ came

the redemption of man. And because of 

the redemption of man, which came by Jesus Christ, 

they are brought back into the presence of the Lord;

 

Again, realizing his impending death, the prophet Mormon wrote a letter of instructions to his son Moroni who was also facing a violent end of his life in the final war with the Lamanites. We usually ascribe more importance to the words of a dying man. What did Mormon think was important to tell his son? Again, the laws of justice and mercy are explained by a prophet using the a climactic instructional sequence.

Moroni 8:25-26

For repentance s unto them that are under condemnation and under the curse of a broken law. And the first fruits of 

repentance is 

baptism;  and 

baptism cometh by faith unto 

the fulfilling the commandments; and 

the fulfilling the commandments bringeth 

remission of sins; And 

the remission of sins bringeth 

meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of 

meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of 

the Holy Ghost, which 

Comforter filleth with hope and perfect

love, which 

love endureth by diligence unto prayer,

until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.

 

Speaking to his family and friends, Nephi’s brother Jacob teaches them why they are obeying the Law of Moses and what happens to people who do not have the Law.

2 Nephi 9: 25-26

Wherefore, he [God] has 

given a law, and where there is no

no law given, there is 

no punishment. And where there is 

no punishment there is 

no condemnation. And where there is 

no condemnation the mercies of the Holy One of Israel  have claim upon thembecause of 

the atonement. For they are delivered by the power of him. For 

the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them, that 

they are delivered from that awful monster, death, and hell, and the devil, and the lake of fire and brimstone which is endless torment. And 

they are restored to that God who gave them breath,

which is the Holy One of Israel.

 

The prophet Alma directs these instructions to poor Nephites who had been shunned and excluded from their churches by their rich oppressors. He gives a message of hope explaining how their poverty could actually bring them great blessings.

ALMA 32: 12-17

It is well that ye are cast out of your synagogues -that ye may be humble, and 

that ye may learn wisdom; for it is necessary 

that ye should learn wisdom; for it is because 

ye are cast out,

that ye are despised of your brethren because of your exceeding poverty, 

that ye are brought to a lowliness of heart; for ye are necessarily 

brought to be humble. And now, because ye are 

compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes if he is 

compelled to be humble, seeketh 

repentance; and now surely, whosever 

repenteth shall 

find mercy; and he that 

findeth mercy

and endureth to the end

the same shall be saved.

         Gradated parallelism is just one of many forms identified in by Donald Parry. He identified over a thousand examples of parallelisms from the first page to the last page of the Book of Mormon (Parry, ibid., 565-578). It may be possible that Joseph Smith faked this Hebraic poetic style, that he intuited it by reading some passages in the Bible or some classic writers, that it was dumb luck or a toss of the dice given so many pages of text, or that as a young man he structured his thoughts in this manner because that is the way his peers in New England spoke and wrote at the time, that his father or a minister of a local church taught him how to do it, or that Martin Harris, Sidney Rigdon, or Oliver Cowdery picked it up somewhere and introduced it to him before he translated the book, or that someone else who knew this wrote the book. But its frequent usage appears to be methodical, purposeful, and intentional. It is unlikely that serendipity or duplicity on the part of Joseph Smith can account for it.  If the Book of Mormon is a translation of an ancient document, it is not unreasonable to conclude that literate Nephites such as Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Alma, Benjamin, Mormon and Moroni used it in their teaching style, especially when the topic was the plan of salvation, because this was a common means of Nephite rhetorical expression. In any case, whatever one thinks, these are remarkably precise and concise expositions of gospel principals and attest to the complexity of the text of the Book of Mormon.

 

PS. An interesting correlated project would be to look for this form in Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews (those parts that do not quote scriptures).

 

 

Thanks for posting this. I love this kind of stuff. I agree with your perceptions of the complexity of the Book of Mormon. Also, the division between literary patterns between the narrative and sermon is something I have spent a lot of time analyzing. The Rigdon-Spaulding theory is compelling to me just because if fits so well this pattern. I sometimes say I wish it were true, because it would explain so much about the Book of Mormon that seems unexplainable. 

The Book of Mormon narrative is complex and consistent. This is the kind of stuff like keeping track of cities, distances, names, relations, prior events. It uses a certain kind of writing style (narrated by Moroni in the past tense) and has distinct word patterns. It feels like an experienced writer wrote this who spent some time mapping it all out. It feels like magnum opus of experienced writer. This could have been Spaulding.

The Book of Mormon sermon passages are all written in first person and use different word patterns. The theology is consistent and unique. It fits an Arminian-Wesleyan leaning reformer. The church Joseph created started going away from this theology almost before the book was even published. Joseph seems to almost be unaware of some of its doctrines. The author was extremely proficient in the Bible and Protestant theology, knowing not just the basics but how experienced theologians pieced together different NT verses to logically argue fine doctrinal points like infinite atonement, depravity of man, foreordination, grace, election, salvation, fall, etc. 

Then there's another literary trend, which I call L (late) voice, which if you order the book in Mosiah priority, we see all kinds of trends either pick up or slow down as you move through the book. Themes the L Voice focus on that are not there in the first half of the book much are things like: House of Israel, judgement, power/authority, Holy Ghost, last days, covenant, and metadata (writing, translation, book, addressing BOM's audience, etc). 

 

Counter for this is:

--the KJV intertextuality in the narrative voice is equally impressive, and I doubt that's Spaulding's style

--conspiracy aspect of it is impossible

--word patterns could likely be explainable by consciously changing style when moving from third person narrative and first person sermon and then the L voice could easily be stylistic drift or a change in motivation by the author

 

I've written a lot about this if you search three voice hypothesis on my website or Wheat and Tares. 

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13 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, 

     which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, 

     which was as eternal also as the life of the soul. Now, how could a man 

repent except he should sin?

You'll want to check all the readings with the critical text. For example, the above is parsed incorrectly in the current text. From Skousen, GV (2016), but first noted in ATV, which is online:

image.png.277e2072f055f1b3936e19759e0584bc.png
This can be read as if a which were present, as in "except there were a punishment which should be affixed.."

Also, "perfect, just God" is more likely "perfect just" meaning 'perfectly just'.  Etc.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, champatsch said:

You'll want to check all the readings with the critical text. For example, the above is parsed incorrectly in the current text. From Skousen, GV (2016), but first noted in ATV, which is online:

image.png.277e2072f055f1b3936e19759e0584bc.png
This can be read as if a which were present, as in "except there were a punishment which should be affixed.."

Also, "perfect, just God" is more likely "perfect just" meaning 'perfectly just'.  Etc.

Thank you for the information. I will do that.

A project that integrates the all the Skousen results with Parry’s reformatting would be interesting. Alas, I am getting too old for that.

Edited by Bernard Gui

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4 hours ago, churchistrue said:

Thanks for posting this. I love this kind of stuff. I agree with your perceptions of the complexity of the Book of Mormon. Also, the division between literary patterns between the narrative and sermon is something I have spent a lot of time analyzing. The Rigdon-Spaulding theory is compelling to me just because if fits so well this pattern. I sometimes say I wish it were true, because it would explain so much about the Book of Mormon that seems unexplainable. 

The Book of Mormon narrative is complex and consistent. This is the kind of stuff like keeping track of cities, distances, names, relations, prior events. It uses a certain kind of writing style (narrated by Moroni in the past tense) and has distinct word patterns. It feels like an experienced writer wrote this who spent some time mapping it all out. It feels like magnum opus of experienced writer. This could have been Spaulding.

The Book of Mormon sermon passages are all written in first person and use different word patterns. The theology is consistent and unique. It fits an Arminian-Wesleyan leaning reformer. The church Joseph created started going away from this theology almost before the book was even published. Joseph seems to almost be unaware of some of its doctrines. The author was extremely proficient in the Bible and Protestant theology, knowing not just the basics but how experienced theologians pieced together different NT verses to logically argue fine doctrinal points like infinite atonement, depravity of man, foreordination, grace, election, salvation, fall, etc. 

Then there's another literary trend, which I call L (late) voice, which if you order the book in Mosiah priority, we see all kinds of trends either pick up or slow down as you move through the book. Themes the L Voice focus on that are not there in the first half of the book much are things like: House of Israel, judgement, power/authority, Holy Ghost, last days, covenant, and metadata (writing, translation, book, addressing BOM's audience, etc). 

Counter for this is:

--the KJV intertextuality in the narrative voice is equally impressive, and I doubt that's Spaulding's style

--conspiracy aspect of it is impossible

--word patterns could likely be explainable by consciously changing style when moving from third person narrative and first person sermon and then the L voice could easily be stylistic drift or a change in motivation by the author

I've written a lot about this if you search three voice hypothesis on my website or Wheat and Tares. 

I agree that the Book of Mormon was purposely written by an educated, mature, experienced person, but I don’t believe it was Spalding for several reasons. The radical differences between Manuscript Found and the Book of Mormon indicate to me they are not by the same author. Spalding died in 1816...IMO 4 years would not be enough time for him to improve his writing to that extent..

Perhaps the affinity with many Protestant doctrines is because they got those doctrines right? 

Edited by Bernard Gui

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4 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

I agree that the Book of Mormon was purposely written by an educated, mature, experienced person, but I don’t believe it was Spalding for several reasons. The radical differences between Manuscript Found and the Book of Mormon indicate to me they are not by the same author. Spalding died in 1816...IMO 4 years would not be enough time for him to improve his writing to that extent..

Perhaps the affinity with many Protestant doctrines is because they got those doctrines right? 

Possible. But using Bayes Theorem how it’s actually supposed to be applied, having so much Protestant theology argues against historicity. If it was a fraud written by Joseph or someone of his era, it would be highly likely to contain Protestant doctrine. If it was written anciently, could it have the doctrine? Sure. But it is much less likely given the difference in time culture, place, and shared history. No matter the exact likelihood you assign to each, it argues against authenticity (unless you think an ancient record more likely than a modern one to contain modern Protestant teachings and doctrine). 

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9 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

 

Perhaps the affinity with many Protestant doctrines is because they got those doctrines right? 

That's possible. I love the BOM and am not closed off to the idea it could be inspired. 

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On 5/10/2019 at 6:00 AM, JarMan said:

Our candidate had to either have been very well educated in the bible and various other issues or else a religious savant. Our candidate pool is probably down to less than a thousand people at this point, with a mix of something like 99% or more well-educated and 1% or less savant. It puzzles me why so many people want to believe the Joseph-as-savant story. To me it seems much more likely that a well-educated person existing sometime in the 200 years or so before the Book of Mormon wrote it. 

We only need to determine whether someone within the orbit of the Smiths between 1805 and 1829 would have been able to produce the Book of Mormon. Did such a person exist? Absolutely. He knew geography, he was America's leading expert in Hebrew and Aramaic, he wrote religious sermons, he was a librarian with access to America's largest collection of Hebrew texts, he was an Arminian theologian well versed in the Bible, he lived 10 miles from the Smiths, and he was a close relative of Joseph Smith Sr.

It is possible to narrow the pool to a candidate within the Smith family living in the same town in 1809. Can you see any reason why Rev. Dr. John Smith is not our ideal candidate?

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19 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

We only need to determine whether someone within the orbit of the Smiths between 1805 and 1829 would have been able to produce the Book of Mormon. Did such a person exist? Absolutely. He knew geography, he was America's leading expert in Hebrew and Aramaic, he wrote religious sermons, he was a librarian with access to America's largest collection of Hebrew texts, he was an Arminian theologian well versed in the Bible, he lived 10 miles from the Smiths, and he was a close relative of Joseph Smith Sr.

It is possible to narrow the pool to a candidate within the Smith family living in the same town in 1809. Can you see any reason why Rev. Dr. John Smith is not our ideal candidate?

He seems like a good candidate because of proximity in space and time. But we can't rule out an early modern production. There is almost nothing in the Book of Mormon that can't be identified before about the 1630's. The problem with John Smith is we don't know a lot about him.

The ideal candidate has a lifetime of writing about things in the Book of Mormon. Ideally he has written about the bible, war, peace, civilization, Christianity, government, etc. Then we could compare what he's written to the contents in the Book of Mormon. It also wouldn't hurt if he's written history and drama so we know he has the ability and inclination to produce something Book of Mormon-ish. I've combed through literally hundreds of books, papers, sermons, etc to narrow down the candidate list. There are less than ten men on that list. If you know of something written by John Smith I'm happy to research it and compare it to the Book of Mormon. If warranted I'll add him to the list.

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37 minutes ago, JarMan said:

If you know of something written by John Smith I'm happy to research it and compare it to the Book of Mormon. If warranted I'll add him to the list.

Scans of some of his writings and lectures in the Dartmouth archives have been made:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/178Nhk1nfCpU9sBZjtvgIFnY5xgdNGViV

Some have been working on transcriptions:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1uSPBCfpzsKov8JOnOZtH-gx5mNSuAy7x

 

Edited by Rajah Manchou
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On 5/9/2019 at 6:57 PM, changed said:

There are many different religious texts:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_text

The oldest of which come from the Hindu tradition... Some say Jesus' lost years were spent in India...   I wonder, if we all studied - equally - all of the religious texts with the same fervor... if we attended religious services from multiple religious groups growing up, not being encouraged to attend one over the other, what our opinions of each group would evolve to...

Maybe something like this?

God speaks to all nations

Quote

 

2 Nephi 29

6 Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?

7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?

8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.

9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.

10 Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.

11 For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.

12 For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.

 

Alma said, 

Quote

....the Lord doth grant unto all nations of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, all that he seeth fit that they should have” (Alma 29:8).

Nephi remarks that God “speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3), which explains how “he remembereth the heathen, and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile” (2 Nephi 26:33), and how “all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world unto man are the typifying of him,” (2 Nephi 11:4). Moroni wrote there are “divers ways that he did manifest things unto the children of men which were good” (Moroni 7:24).

Edited by Bernard Gui
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On 5/10/2019 at 10:07 AM, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Possible. But using Bayes Theorem how it’s actually supposed to be applied, having so much Protestant theology argues against historicity. If it was a fraud written by Joseph or someone of his era, it would be highly likely to contain Protestant doctrine. If it was written anciently, could it have the doctrine? Sure. But it is much less likely given the difference in time culture, place, and shared history. No matter the exact likelihood you assign to each, it argues against authenticity (unless you think an ancient record more likely than a modern one to contain modern Protestant teachings and doctrine). 

Not necessarily. Protestants were using the same source material as the Nephites, the revelations and teachings recorded on the Brass Plates. The Protestant Reformers sought to correct errors that had crept into the Christianity they knew. The Book of Mormon was written in part to correct errors that had crept into Christianity and Judaism, including those that may have been introduced by the Reformers. I see no problem as you describe.

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On 5/10/2019 at 11:10 PM, Rajah Manchou said:

We only need to determine whether someone within the orbit of the Smiths between 1805 and 1829 would have been able to produce the Book of Mormon. Did such a person exist? Absolutely. He knew geography, he was America's leading expert in Hebrew and Aramaic, he wrote religious sermons, he was a librarian with access to America's largest collection of Hebrew texts, he was an Arminian theologian well versed in the Bible, he lived 10 miles from the Smiths, and he was a close relative of Joseph Smith Sr.

It is possible to narrow the pool to a candidate within the Smith family living in the same town in 1809. Can you see any reason why Rev. Dr. John Smith is not our ideal candidate?

Do you have examples of Rev Smith’s writings and sermons?

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2 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

Do you have examples of Rev Smith’s writings and sermons?

Linked from above. It isn't everything but scans of some of his writings and lectures have been made. Some transcriptions are available.

Richard K Behrens has done some research into Smith's writings. You can see a summary of the similarities and differences here.
In short, the influence of Dr. Smith cannot be easily brushed aside.

Edited by Rajah Manchou

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On 5/10/2019 at 11:07 AM, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Possible. But using Bayes Theorem how it’s actually supposed to be applied, having so much Protestant theology argues against historicity. If it was a fraud written by Joseph or someone of his era, it would be highly likely to contain Protestant doctrine. If it was written anciently, could it have the doctrine? Sure. But it is much less likely given the difference in time culture, place, and shared history. No matter the exact likelihood you assign to each, it argues against authenticity (unless you think an ancient record more likely than a modern one to contain modern Protestant teachings and doctrine). 

 

6 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

Not necessarily. Protestants were using the same source material as the Nephites, the revelations and teachings recorded on the Brass Plates. The Protestant Reformers sought to correct errors that had crept into the Christianity they knew. The Book of Mormon was written in part to correct errors that had crept into Christianity and Judaism, including those that may have been introduced by the Reformers. I see no problem as you describe.

Are you familiar with Bayes Theorem? I understand how apologists explain the presence of modern Protestant theology in the Book of Mormon. I make no comment on this. 

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1 hour ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

 

Are you familiar with Bayes Theorem? I understand how apologists explain the presence of modern Protestant theology in the Book of Mormon. I make no comment on this. 

Only what I have read here. I will do some reading.

Edited by Bernard Gui

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I just checked 3 Nephi 8 and there is no mention of a volcano, as the authors of the Interpreter article contend. Also, it is not apparent that the author in the Book of Mormon was witness to the events described in the section, as the authors assert.

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46 minutes ago, cliodude said:

I just checked 3 Nephi 8 and there is no mention of a volcano, as the authors of the Interpreter article contend. Also, it is not apparent that the author in the Book of Mormon was witness to the events described in the section, as the authors assert.

Volcanic eruptions are assumed because (1) exceedingly sharp lightnings, (2) fires, (3) thick darkness. Mesoamerica modelers also prefer reading volcanoes in 3 Nephi 8 because Mexico had active volcanoes at the time while the Heartland did not.

However,  ice core samples show no major global eruptions within 50-70 years of 34 AD. (source)

EFvk7yxAvL-3000x3000.pngThere were no major volcanic eruptions anywhere in the world when Christ died. The span between 43 BC and 95 AD even seems to be one of the quietest on record.

Edited by Rajah Manchou
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18 hours ago, cliodude said:

I just checked 3 Nephi 8 and there is no mention of a volcano, as the authors of the Interpreter article contend. Also, it is not apparent that the author in the Book of Mormon was witness to the events described in the section, as the authors assert.

For a detailed analysis, see

In the Thirty and Fourth Year: A Geologist's View of the Great Destruction in 3 Nephi

https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/thirty-and-fourth-year-geologists-view-great-destruction-3-nephi

For an even more detailed, book length analysis, see Jerry Grover, The Geology of the Book of Mormon

https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/geology-book-mormon

For another take on ice core evidence, see Benjamin Jordan in JBMS here:

https://publications.mi.byu.edu/publications/jbms/12/1/S00008-50e5fa62cbc4c9Jordan.pdf

The author of the3 Nephi (Mormon)  had lots of records from eye witnesses to work with.

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

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31 minutes ago, Kevin Christensen said:

For another take on ice core evidence, see Benjamin Jordan in JBMS here:

Thanks for that, I had searched for papers looking at ice core evidence during the Book of Mormon time period, but couldn't find anything. Jordan doesn't provide much evidence that there were eruptions of significance in 34 AD, only that there were eruptions somewhere in the world, as we might expect to find, for any year:

"This evidence is not conclusive and leaves the door open for some criticism of the volcanic hypothesis, but it cannot be argued that there is no evidence outside the Book of Mormon for a volcanic eruption during that time period."

Jordan wrote his paper in 2003. The ice core data I posted above is far more comprehensive than the studies that came before it (2015). It shows clearly that there were no substantial volcanic eruptions from 43BC until Vesuvius in 79AD.

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Kevin Christensen, that's all just wishful thinking. Rajah has provided more credible evidence. I am also certain that that BofM peoples would have had a word for volcanoes if they existed in their presence.

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On 5/13/2019 at 2:30 PM, Rajah Manchou said:

Thanks for that, I had searched for papers looking at ice core evidence during the Book of Mormon time period, but couldn't find anything. Jordan doesn't provide much evidence that there were eruptions of significance in 34 AD, only that there were eruptions somewhere in the world, as we might expect to find, for any year:

"This evidence is not conclusive and leaves the door open for some criticism of the volcanic hypothesis, but it cannot be argued that there is no evidence outside the Book of Mormon for a volcanic eruption during that time period."

Jordan wrote his paper in 2003. The ice core data I posted above is far more comprehensive than the studies that came before it (2015). It shows clearly that there were no substantial volcanic eruptions from 43BC until Vesuvius in 79AD.

In Grover's Geology of the Book of Mormon, (an extremely detailed and far ranging survey, very much worth reading carefully) pages 39 to 49, he lists evidence for volcanic activity for several specific volcanos, including San Martin, which he argues is the best candidate for producing the effects described in 3 Nephi.  On page 180, he commends that "Based on archeological exxcavations at Tres Zapotes... and Lake Catemaco... that identified volcanic deposits within the time frame of 3rd Nephi, a reasonable extent of these  deposits would be 26 km from the San Martin cone."  (Grover, 180.)    It strikes me as possible that evidence from an authentic 3 Nephi erruption could leave evidence 26 km from the time and place required and not in ice core sites thousands of miles away, weather having an inherent element of chaotic behavior.

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

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1 hour ago, Kevin Christensen said:

It strikes me as possible that evidence from an authentic 3 Nephi erruption could leave evidence 26 km from the time and place required and not in ice core sites thousands of miles away, weather having an inherent element of chaotic behavior.

 A more localized eruption could be possible but the three days of darkness that followed could not have been volcanic ash plumes as Grover suggests. Three days of darkness was experienced across the isles of the sea, not just America. If it was caused by volcanic eruptions severe enough to throw that much ash into the atmosphere we would see it in the ice core samples. 

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