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JarMan

Joseph Smith: The World's Greatest Guesser

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51 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Oh, 19th century? Thanks!

Why do I get the impression you're mocking me?

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47 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

I think the point is that unless you do the investigation of alternative interpretations you can't really treat the element as anything more than a very subjective guess.

I had thought that by asking my questions, I was investigating alternative interpretations.  "Investigating" does not mean accepting without question.  I'm asking questions.

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A lot of ANE elements persisted in Joseph's environment due to commentaries, masonic elements or even direct Jewish influences. (There were significant attempts at Jewish immigration to New York) There was more around than I think many realize even if some critics attempts at reduction fail or seem implausible.

OK.  So, you're saying that the presence of Jewish influences (as few as there were) meant that Joseph had access to the grammatical usage and vocabulary of Ancient Israel in a minor cultural peculiarity as saying a ruler is "seated" rather than another word usage?  I'm investigating by asking this question.  But it is sounding pretty implausible.  Just how much interaction did the Jews of the 1900s interact with a Christian farmboy?

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Really the whole approach at Bayesianism here looks like it's objective in some sense but is really just a way of formalizing very subjective inferences.

I'm looking.  But it seems that any way you look at it, there is very little evidence for any of this.  So, just about any interpretations or explanations for Joseph and the BoM are very subjective inferences, including both the OP and the article he cites.

Edited by Carborendum

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2 hours ago, Carborendum said:

Two things:

1) So, you're saying that it is inspired if it was from Mayan Culture, but it is NOT inspired if it was from Ancient Israel's culture.  (I'm not being sarcastic.  I just want to be clear about what you're saying).

I'm not talking about whether or not it is "inspired" or not. In a sense, all literature is inspired, and many people find the Book of Mormon to be inspiring.

The question is whether the Book of Mormon is an accurate translation of an authentic ancient Mesoamerican manuscript.

 

2 hours ago, Carborendum said:

2) How many times do you see "seated" used in the Old Testament?  How many instances is the word "seat" used as the throne or place of power? (apart from the "mercy seat").

Like in 1 Kings 10:19, for example?

2 hours ago, Carborendum said:

So, even if it were directly copied from Mediterranean culture, where would Joseph Smith (or, as you purport, this mystery third party cultural polyglot) have gotten it from?  It's not in the Bible.

According to the 1828 dictionary, the second definition of the word "seat", when used as a verb, is "To place in a post of authority, in office or a place of distinction. He seated his son in the professor's chair."

http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/seat

Joseph Smith knew English, and I find the concept preposterous that by itself, Joseph using this English word correctly in the Book of Mormon constitutes 50:1 odds that the book is ancient and that it is incumbent upon skeptics to explain how Joseph Smith acquired this (or any other) word in his vocabulary.

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8 hours ago, PacMan said:

Really? If you don’t know the historical basics of what we are talking about then we shouldn’t be discussing. Google Stephens and Catherwood. This is well-known historical information. 

That you are asking me to prove a negative demonstrates the ridiculous weakness of your position. 

I know Stephens and Catherwood, they did not "discover" the Maya. The Maya were discovered when the Spanish discovered what is now Mexico and Guatemala. Jesuit priests in the 16th century were living in abandoned Maya temples while they converted Maya. Manuscripts like Relación de las cosas de Yucatán, were being written about the Maya (and a number of other native groups such as the Inca) 250 years before the Book of Mormon was published. 

"Relación de las cosas de Yucatán was written by Diego de Landa around 1566, shortly after his return from Yucatán to Spain. In it, de Landa catalogues Mayan words and phrases as well as a small number of Mayan hieroglyphs. The hieroglyphs, sometimes referred to as the de Landa alphabet, proved vital to modern attempts to decipher the script. The book also includes documentation of Maya religion and the Mayan peoples' culture in general. It was written with the help of local Maya princes."

While it is true that Landa's manuscript was published after the Book of Mormon, this does not move back the date of the discovery of the Maya to 1839. I quickly Googled, and among the top results:

"As noted elsewhere, Stephens and Catherwood were not the first explorers of the ancient Mayan sites (though they are routinely designated so). They were, however, the first to visit so many sites and, more importantly, to document what they found there with precision and accuracy." (source)

"In 1839 two archaeologists, John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood, carefully pored over these words to Philip to help them in their journey to Copán. Although it, and other sites, were not exactly “lost,” a fog of ignorance still obscured European and American notions of Mesoamerican culture. Some early 19th-century authors—guided by racist assumptions about the indigenous inhabitants of the area—even argued the monumental ruined cities of Central America must have been built by Egyptians. Aided by the scant documentation on the site, including García de Palacio’s letter, Stephens and Catherwood set out to change these opinions and reawaken interest in these ceremonial centers, now swallowed by the jungle." (source)

The claim that Stephens and Catherwood "discovered the Maya" is bad history. But if you believe it to be true, CFR that the BoM was published PRIOR to the discovery of the Maya.

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13 hours ago, PacMan said:

Then we disagree. 

Whether the Dales ran the study as Joseph being the single guesser or not is immaterial because the results can be adjusted to include the exhaustive options as “any number of guessers” v. the divine. That’s what I’ve advocated from the beginning. And because Mayan were unknown, that’s how we know these options are exhaustive - unless you want to include leprechauns and crystal balls. 

Whether or not the Maya were known is irrelevant. Why you think that's an issue is a mystery to me. At any rate, I've taken up this discussion with the Dales on the Interpreter website.

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19 hours ago, Analytics said:

I'm not talking about whether or not it is "inspired" or not. In a sense, all literature is inspired, and many people find the Book of Mormon to be inspiring.

The question is whether the Book of Mormon is an accurate translation of an authentic ancient Mesoamerican manuscript.

OK.  That clarifies.  But the big picture is pretty much the same.

So, given that the Nephite culture was heavily influenced by Mediterranean culture, why is it "an accurate translation" if it is from Mayan culture, but NOT "an accurate translation" if it is from Mediterranean culture? 

Quote

Like in 1 Kings 10:19, for example?

Yes, I saw that in my search before I posted.  And that is as close as it gets.  But it is tenuous at best.  There really isn't the phrase "He obtained the seat of power" or anything like that when describing someone ascending to power -- which is the condition you initially pointed to.

Quote

According to the 1828 dictionary, the second definition of the word "seat", when used as a verb, is "To place in a post of authority, in office or a place of distinction. He seated his son in the professor's chair."

http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/seat

Joseph Smith knew English, and I find the concept preposterous that by itself, Joseph using this English word correctly in the Book of Mormon constitutes 50:1 odds that the book is ancient and that it is incumbent upon skeptics to explain how Joseph Smith acquired this (or any other) word in his vocabulary.

This I can believe.  Your initial critique was that it was obtained from Mediterranean culture, not American culture.  The American culture, I can believe would be a reasonable alternative explanation.  But your initial position?... Not so much.

I still believe it was an accurate translation of the record of an ancient people on this continent.  But as a matter of exploring alternative points of view, this would be a reasonable one.

Edited by Carborendum

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13 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

I know Stephens and Catherwood, they did not "discover" the Maya. The Maya were discovered when the Spanish discovered what is now Mexico and Guatemala. Jesuit priests in the 16th century were living in abandoned Maya temples while they converted Maya. Manuscripts like Relación de las cosas de Yucatán, were being written about the Maya (and a number of other native groups such as the Inca) 250 years before the Book of Mormon was published. 

"Relación de las cosas de Yucatán was written by Diego de Landa around 1566, shortly after his return from Yucatán to Spain. In it, de Landa catalogues Mayan words and phrases as well as a small number of Mayan hieroglyphs. The hieroglyphs, sometimes referred to as the de Landa alphabet, proved vital to modern attempts to decipher the script. The book also includes documentation of Maya religion and the Mayan peoples' culture in general. It was written with the help of local Maya princes."

While it is true that Landa's manuscript was published after the Book of Mormon, this does not move back the date of the discovery of the Maya to 1839. I quickly Googled, and among the top results:

"As noted elsewhere, Stephens and Catherwood were not the first explorers of the ancient Mayan sites (though they are routinely designated so). They were, however, the first to visit so many sites and, more importantly, to document what they found there with precision and accuracy." (source)

"In 1839 two archaeologists, John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood, carefully pored over these words to Philip to help them in their journey to Copán. Although it, and other sites, were not exactly “lost,” a fog of ignorance still obscured European and American notions of Mesoamerican culture. Some early 19th-century authors—guided by racist assumptions about the indigenous inhabitants of the area—even argued the monumental ruined cities of Central America must have been built by Egyptians. Aided by the scant documentation on the site, including García de Palacio’s letter, Stephens and Catherwood set out to change these opinions and reawaken interest in these ceremonial centers, now swallowed by the jungle." (source)

The claim that Stephens and Catherwood "discovered the Maya" is bad history. But if you believe it to be true, CFR that the BoM was published PRIOR to the discovery of the Maya.

Now you’re being uselessly pedantic.  Discovery has more to do with revealing it to the world than who found it first. Stephens and Catherwood are credited for discovering the Maya because of what they contributed to the world.  But unless you believe Landa revealed those parts in Coe’s book that correspond to the BoM, you’re point is spurious.

In any event, the CFR is in your own post. The BoM was published in 1830. This was 9 years before Landas manuscript was published and before Stephens and Catherwood left for their own exploration. The point is, whether Joseph knew the information corresponding between the BoM and Coe’s book.  The information, as you’ve pointed out, wasn’t available. Thank you for proving my point. 

Edited by PacMan

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10 hours ago, JarMan said:

Whether or not the Maya were known is irrelevant. Why you think that's an issue is a mystery to me. At any rate, I've taken up this discussion with the Dales on the Interpreter website.

Then you need to read my comments until you understand them. It’s pretty clear.

It relates to the issue of exhaustion that you brought up. If no one could have helped Joseph with actual knowledge of the Maya, then the origin of information is a mutually exclusive choice between guessing and the divine. The lack of contemporary knowledge of the Maya reduces the origin of the BoM to two options. And whether the medium of the guessing or recipient of the divine is one person or ten is completely moot. Because it doesn’t change the nature of the source of that knowledge. 

If you still don’t get it, just don’t respond.

Edited by PacMan

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37 minutes ago, PacMan said:

Now you’re being uselessly pedantic.  Discovery has more to do with revealing it to the world than who found it first. Stephens and Catherwood are credited for discovering the Maya because of what they contributed to the world.  But unless you believe Landa revealed those parts in Coe’s book that correspond to the BoM, you’re point is spurious.

In any event, the CFR is in your own post. The BoM was published in 1830. This was 9 years before Landas manuscript was published and before Stephens and Catherwood left for their own exploration. The point is, whether Joseph knew the information corresponding between the BoM and Coe’s book.  The information, as you’ve pointed out, wasn’t available. Thank you for proving my point. 

The CFR is not for references showing that the Book of Mormon was published previous to Landa's manuscript, the CFR is for proof that the BoM was published before the Maya were discovered.

America wasn't discovered the year Columbus' manuscripts were translated into English and published. Be precise, or don't use the word discover. It is misleading. 

Edited by Rajah Manchou

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9 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

The CFR is not for references showing that the Book of Mormon was published previous to Landa's manuscript, the CFR is for proof that the BoM was published before the Maya were discovered.

It is misleading to say that the Maya were "discovered" in 1839. Be precise, America wasn't discovered the year Columbus' manuscripts were translated into English and published in New York.

CFR that the BoM was published prior to the discovery of the Maya.

And why is that pedantic difference material?  We inherently know how academia uses the term "discovery."  For crying out loud, no one really thinks that Lewis and Clark were the first to ever explore the west.  You've added nothing through your derailment.

Now, I invite you to get back on point.  Or move on.  Either suits me fine.

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1 minute ago, PacMan said:

And why is that pedantic difference material?  We inherently know how academia uses the term "discovery."  For crying out loud, no one really thinks that Lewis and Clark were the first to ever explore the west.  You've added nothing through your derailment.

Now, I invite you to get back on point.  Or move on.  Either suits me fine.

The point is that it would be far easier for the author of the Book of Mormon to guess the correspondences with the Maya if it was known that there were ruins of an ancient civilization possibly built by Israelites or Egyptians in Mesoamerica.

The civilizations and ruins in the Yucatan were known previous to 1830.

Why? Because the Aztecs, Maya and Inca had been discovered 250 previous. Joseph would have known that there was a civilization there, and that many believed that civilization to have been built by Egyptians. Stephens and Catherwood went to the Yucatan 9 years later to try and disprove that hypothesis.

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12 minutes ago, PacMan said:

For crying out loud, no one really thinks that Lewis and Clark were the first to ever explore the west. 

This is why nobody says that Lewis and Clark discovered Native Americans.

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On 6/5/2019 at 10:18 AM, Carborendum said:

I had thought that by asking my questions, I was investigating alternative interpretations.  "Investigating" does not mean accepting without question.  I'm asking questions.

Just to be clear I was more addressing the Bayesian aspects of the discussion, not people raising questions which is always a good thing.

On 6/5/2019 at 10:18 AM, Carborendum said:

OK.  So, you're saying that the presence of Jewish influences (as few as there were) meant that Joseph had access to the grammatical usage and vocabulary of Ancient Israel in a minor cultural peculiarity as saying a ruler is "seated" rather than another word usage?  I'm investigating by asking this question.  But it is sounding pretty implausible.  Just how much interaction did the Jews of the 1900s interact with a Christian farmboy?

No, I'm saying that Jewish elements can't be assumed to not be the influence of contemporary sources unless one eliminates them through investigation. So for example Don Bradley's thesis notes that there was a movement in New York prior to the Book of Mormon translation to gather the Jews there rather than to Israel. This led to a lot of discussion and various attempts even though it ultimately failed. Interestingly this also involved Royal Arch masons and more.

Likewise renaissance speculative movements often appropriated many elements out of esoteric Judaism such as Kabbalism. Those continued both in the esoteric/magic traditions we know Joseph was exposed to in some degree and the masonic traditions. That doesn't mean all Judaism is. And the limited data means it's difficult and ultimately impossible to know what Joseph was or wasn't exposed to. However there are at minimum indirect influences although people will debate how big a difference they actually made. (As a believe I assume the bulk of the Book of Mormon is authentic with such elements at best shaping the nature of a real translation -- but obviously critics disagree)

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7 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

The point is that it would be far easier for the author of the Book of Mormon to guess the correspondences with the Maya if it was known that there were ruins of an ancient civilization possibly built by Israelites or Egyptians in Mesoamerica.

The civilizations and ruins in the Yucatan were known previous to 1830.

Why? Because the Aztecs, Maya and Inca had been discovered 250 previous. Joseph would have known that there was a civilization there, and that many believed that civilization to have been built by Egyptians. Stephens and Catherwood went to the Yucatan 9 years later to try and disprove that hypothesis.

If the Dales’ only “hit” was the the mere existence of an ancient American civilization, you might have a point. As that’s not the case....

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7 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

This is why nobody says that Lewis and Clark discovered Native Americans.

No, but they discovered over 300 plants and animals in their “discovery” of the west. The point being, they didn’t really discover much. They simply were the first (or most famous) to report it. 

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On 6/5/2019 at 11:18 PM, Carborendum said:

Just how much interaction did the Jews of the 1900s interact with a Christian farmboy?

Another question is how much interaction did Christian farmboys have with the Hebrew language? In the decades previous to the publication of the Book of Mormon, America had a fascination with the Hebrew language. It almost became the official language of America

The Smiths lived a few miles from Dartmouth where Hebrew was taught and spoken openly on campus, where the commencement ceremonies were delivered in Hebrew. A Smith cousin, also raised as a Christian farmboy, spoke Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic fluently. 

Biblical Hebrew in Colonial America: The Case of Dartmouth

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1 hour ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

The vote on Hebrew language being used by the colonizers who came on the Mayflower is a myth. Try and find a real reference to it in any contemporary document, or incorporated into any academic history.

Just like the claim that the early American's also almost adopted German as their official language. And of course French as well.

Yes, at Dartmouth, there were orations given in Hebrew at commencement ceremonies (no, the entire ceremony was NEVER performed entirely in Hebrew). Those speeches in Hebrew occurred only seven times n the 33 years span between 1777 and 1809. Dartmouth was established in 1769, but by this time, interest in Hebrew was in serious decline in higher education schools in the United States. In 1787, Hebrew became optional for students at Harvard, and in 1789 at Yale. The 1799 commencement was described in The Farmer's Museum (a bi-weekly newspaper). The ceremonies opened with a salutation in Latin, followed by speeches in French and Greek. The afternoon had two speeches in English, and close with a speech in Hebrew by a student named Jacob Patch. The text of the speech (which still exists), was apparently written by Professor John Smith (no immediate relationshiop to Joseph), who would have instructed Patch.We actually have fairly decent descriptions of the Dartmouth commencement

History is, of course, narrative. And it is always enjoyable to see people twist that narrative to fabricate justification for their beliefs in the present.

Ben McGuire

Thanks for the extra detail. Allow me to rephrase my earlier twisting of history

Another question is how much interaction did Christian farmboys have with the Hebrew language? In the decades previous to the publication of the Book of Mormon, America had a fascination with the Hebrew language. In the 1780s, some seriously proposed that Hebrew substitute English as the language spoken in America. (source)

The Smiths lived a few miles from Dartmouth where Hebrew was taught and spoken openly on campus, where portions of ceremonies were delivered in Hebrew until 1809. Dr. John Smith, also raised as a Christian farmboy, spoke Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic fluently. Richard Behrens has claimed that Dr. John Smith was a cousin of Joseph Smith Sr's father. (source) If there is evidence otherwise, CFR. 

Edited by Rajah Manchou

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12 minutes ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

The text of the speech (which still exists)

The text of the speech written in Hebrew by, it seems, Dr John Smith:

"Let every wise man direct his deeds to the straight and honest path. Wicked men who wish to take the twisted paths say there is a way within them. He will say: any man (can) make the law if He had not given the form (of the law). And from then on an error establishes itself in the heart of the one who espouses it (the belief that any man can make the law). That same curse of wickedness (shall dwell) in the neighbors of the one who errs. Therefore (the wise man) shall not observe it, for from looking into it he shall be turned away from his vigor. But when we do justice we shall be exalted and grow in wisdom and knowledge. We shall calculate our punishment and reward, and our blemishes, and we shall despise their burden. Believe (in good), but do not believe in those who speak evil. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is the law, this is the commandment, and these are the deeds which give strength to a fellow man. To this the eternal nation will give their testimony. Many chose to follow their passions much more than their wisdom. The animal impulses reign over all; it rules their deeds more than wisdom does. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter; Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man."

Speeches like the above (delivered in imprecise Hebrew) would have been known to Solomon Spaulding and Ethan Smith, and other students at Dartmouth previous to 1809.

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1 hour ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Thanks for the extra detail. Allow me to rephrase my earlier twisting of history

Another question is how much interaction did Christian farmboys have with the Hebrew language? In the decades previous to the publication of the Book of Mormon, America had a fascination with the Hebrew language. In the 1780s, some seriously proposed that Hebrew substitute English as the language spoken in America. (source)

The Smiths lived a few miles from Dartmouth where Hebrew was taught and spoken openly on campus, where portions of ceremonies were delivered in Hebrew until 1809. Dr. John Smith, also raised as a Christian farmboy, spoke Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic fluently. Richard Behrens has claimed that Dr. John Smith was a cousin of Joseph Smith Sr's father. (source) If there is evidence otherwise, CFR. 

John Smith was born to the cousins(Unsure if 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th..?) of Asael Smith and Mary Duty, the paternal grandparents of the Joseph Smith Jr.  John Smith was the son of Joseph's grandparent's cousins.

Edited by Steve J
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17 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

Just to be clear I was more addressing the Bayesian aspects of the discussion, not people raising questions which is always a good thing.

I've never heard the term "Bayesian" before.  I just looked it up.  So I hope I'm understanding it correctly.  I understand it to mean that you were considering the statistical and probabilistic approach to determine a claim to be true.  That's fine.  But I guess that means I'm completely misunderstanding the point of the discussion.

I only care that a theory has a reasonable level of probability of being right, not necessarily the highest.  It seems that the tendency to put too much emphasize on a slightly higher probability is flawed.

When discussing Divine intervention, how does that ever guarantee the the highest probability?  I'd think it would actually be among the lower probabilities.  Consider that God did something because he saw the normal pattern going a way He didn't want it. "Normal pattern" could be considered what will happen within one standard deviation from average probability of happening given the circumstances.

If the "Norm" was something he did NOT want, then wouldn't His intervention create something that would be less likely to happen based on probability alone?

This is not a "God of the gaps" approach.  And it is not pish-bam-boom "Because...God." My point is that if one takes the approach of Deism, then why do we believe in a God?  Why do we believe in miracles?  Why do we believe in a restoration and prophets?

  It is logical to assume that what was normally happening needed to be changed.  So, looking for the HIGHEST probability is most likely the WRONG probability.

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30 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

I've never heard the term "Bayesian" before.  I just looked it up.  So I hope I'm understanding it correctly.  I understand it to mean that you were considering the statistical and probabilistic approach to determine a claim to be true.  That's fine.  But I guess that means I'm completely misunderstanding the point of the discussion.

It's tied to a recent Interpreter article that has been alluded to in a few comments. The thread title refers to that paper. Again, I'm not discussing everything in this thread.

The problem was what many of us see as fundamental misapplication of Bayesian approaches as well as obscuring the fundamental subjective interpretive nature of most of the judgments.

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Another question is how much interaction did Christian farmboys have with the Hebrew language? In the decades previous to the publication of the Book of Mormon, America had a fascination with the Hebrew language. In the 1780s, some seriously proposed that Hebrew substitute English as the language spoken in America. (source) 

Except that once more, your ability to use Google outpaces your ability to engage in critical research. It doesn't help that your 'source' is cut from a longer text (still an internet opinion piece) here:

http://strangeside.com/hebrew-in-america/

I'm sure you have read it. The documentation for German and French (as problematic as they are) is still much greater than it is for Hebrew. So we are left having to ask ourselves, if this sort of thing should be counted as evidence that these farm boys had significant interaction with Hebrew, then they must have had even more interaction with German and French, right? And then we have (in contrast), John Adam's letter to congress (coincidentally also dated to 1870), in which he wrote this:

Quote

In the last Century, Latin was the universal Language of Europe. Correspondence among the learned, and indeed among Merchants and Men of Business and the Conversation of Strangers and Travellers, was generally carried on in that dead Language. In the present Century, Latin has been generally laid aside, and French has been substituted in its place; but has not yet become universally established, and according to present Appearances, it is not probable that it will. English is destined to be in the next and succeeding Centuries, more generally the Language of the World, than Latin was in the last, or French is in the present Age. The Reason of this is obvious, because the increasing Population in America, and their universal Connection and Correspondence with all Nations will, aided by the Influence of England in the World, whether great or small, force their Language into general Use, in spight of all the Obstacles that may be thrown in their Way, if any such there should be.

So perhaps the infatuation with Hebrew wasn't as significant as you suggest - although I will be the first to agree with the fact that in the first part of the 19th century, much of the academic work in America involving Hebrew was centered at Dartmouth, and much of the literature that was used by early Mormons in their pursuit of Hebrew learning was involved with Dartmouth and those who taught there (Seixas, Stuart, and Gibbs for example).

So when you write:

Quote

The Smiths lived a few miles from Dartmouth where Hebrew was taught and spoken openly on campus, where the commencement ceremonies were delivered in Hebrew. A Smith cousin, also raised as a Christian farmboy, spoke Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic fluently.  

We run into the same sorts of problems. No commencement ceremonies were ever delivered in Hebrew. There were a handful of orations given in Hebrew (which demonstrated the ability to read it among the graduating students). And this sort of anecdotal evidence doesn't actually lead us to this sort of conclusion. I think that we can safely argue that most people were aware of the Hebrew language, but had little familiarity with it or exposure to it. Consider in Kirtland, how novel education in Hebrew was. and how reliant the members of the Church were (who were studying Hebrew) on the printed material that had just recently been purchased and brought back from the east. This was a group of people that had a high degree of interest in Hebrew but relatively limited exposure. Even with the much more educated Sidney Rigdon, who apparently had some past experience working with Biblical Greek (from his time as a minister in another restorationist group under Campbell), there isn't any strong sense in the historical record of an understanding of Hebrew. I really question how you could even demonstrate this conclusion that you draw - which seems more to be an intuited opinion that you are looking for ways to justify rather than a logical result of looking at evidence.

Quote

 Richard Behrens has claimed that Dr. John Smith was a cousin of Joseph Smith Sr's father. (source) If there is evidence otherwise, CFR.

What does this mean?

Joseph Smith was a descendant of three Mayflower passengers. That's made him related to a huge chunk of the American population (and British population for that matter).  Winston Churchill, Benedict Arnold, Ben Affleck,

Joseph Smith is a cousin to Winston Churchill, Benedict Arnold, Ben Affleck, Meghan Markle, Franlkin D. Roosevelt, Walt Disney, Shirley Temple, Sarah Palin ... it's a long list:

https://famouskin.com/famous-kin-menu.php?name=34213+joseph+smith

So the idea that they are related isn't meaningful to the things you are asserting. Among other things, Professor Smith learned the various languages - not as a farm boy, but from a formal education.

The point of all of this is that you are creating a portrait of Joseph Smith that doesn't really seem to have much connection to the historical Joseph Smith. I have a half finished essay which has languished for many years which starts from the related discussion about Jesus. It's preliminary title was: " The Quest for the Historical Joseph Smith " and it compares the quest for the historical Joseph Smith with that quest for the historical Jesus. Luke Timothy Johnson (Contested Issues in Christian Origins and the New Testament [Brill: 2013]) summarized (at least for the quest for the historical Jesus) the problem like this:

Quote

It is surely not entirely a coincidence that the liberally inclined academics of the late twentieth century have found a Jesus who is not embarrassingly eschatological, not especially Jewish, not offensively religious, a canny crafter of countercultural aphorisms who is multicultural, egalitarian, an advocate of open commensality, and a reformer who is against the exclusive politics of holiness and for the inclusive politics of compassion. And best of all, he is all this as a charismatic peasant whose wisdom is not spoiled by literacy. What more perfect mirror of late-twentieth-century academic social values and professional self-despising could be imaged? Nor is it surprising that at the opposite end of the cultural and religious spectrum, more evangelically oriented Christians are finding a Jesus who is precisely eschatological, devoted to purity and holiness, and a champion of the politics of restoration within Judaism. Clearly, scholars’ pre-understanding of Jesus deeply affects their way of assessing the data.

Or to paraphrase from T.W. Manson: " By their lives of Jospeh Smith ye shall know them". The moment we start to veer off into a narrative that is necessary to explain a conclusion in the absence of real data, that is when our degree of skepticism should jump in a corresponding fashion. You aren't providing history here - just pure conjecture. And it doesn't matter how much of a veneer you try to put on it, it still doesn't make any sense.

Ben

Edited by Benjamin McGuire
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7 hours ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

Except that once more, your ability to use Google outpaces your ability to engage in critical research. It doesn't help that your 'source' is cut from a longer text (still an internet opinion piece) here

My source was the "Extracts from the Travels of Marquis de Chastellux in America":

"I have often heard them say, “You speak very good American, American is not difficult to learn.” They go further, and have seriously proposed to introduce a new language; and some, for the public convenience , would have the Hebrew substituted to the English, taught in the schools, and used in all public acts."

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So perhaps the infatuation with Hebrew wasn't as significant as you suggest

I'm willing to accept that, my first post on the topic was asking the question "how much interaction did Christian farmboys have with the Hebrew language?" I'm genuinely interested in the answer and provided some points for discussion. I wasn't trying to force my assumptions on anybody. I'm using the term farmboy because it was mentioned earlier in the conversation not because I find it useful.

We know that Solomon Spaulding and Ethan Smith attended Dartmouth, a center of Hebrew scholarship and literature in America. Hyrum also attended Moors School at Dartmouth. How much exposure to Hebrew would Hyrum have in the 1810s?

7 hours ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

What does this mean? Joseph Smith was a descendant of three Mayflower passengers. That's made him related to a huge chunk of the American population (and British population for that matter).  Winston Churchill, Benedict Arnold, Ben Affleck, Joseph Smith is a cousin to Winston Churchill, Benedict Arnold, Ben Affleck, Meghan Markle, Franlkin D. Roosevelt, Walt Disney, Shirley Temple, Sarah Palin ... it's a long list:

Dr. John Smith came from Byfield Massachusettes, 9 miles from Topsfield, the hometown of Asael Smith. They were contemporaries and share a common last name. This list you've shared from the Internet is not helpful. Maybe somebody knows the exact relationship between Dr. John Smith and Asael Smith and can help us out.

7 hours ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

The point of all of this is that you are creating a portrait of Joseph Smith that doesn't really seem to have much connection to the historical Joseph Smith.

I'm trying to understand the environment that the Book of Mormon came from. I haven't mentioned Joseph once.

But since we're discussing the Dale's article, Joseph's ability to guess correspondences such as usage of the term "seating" would depend on his environment. Was there exposure to Hebrew in his early years through his father or Hyrum who, although a farmboy, was a student at Moors Charity School at Dartmouth?

Edited by Rajah Manchou

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