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SettingDogStar

Deutro-Isaiah question?

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13 hours ago, sunstoned said:

Joseph Smith, et al,  didn't know this when they they wrote the BoM.

 

This doesn't work since syntactic patterns and usage definitively rule out Joseph Smith or anyone else commonly associated with the composition of the Book of Mormon as potential authors of the text.

 

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20 hours ago, SettingDogStar said:

Is it true that the Book of Mormon has portions of Isaiah that weren't written till after the captivity? If so, is there any good logical explanation for this? It won't crack my belief in the book, but I'm curious. 

Coming late to the discussion, but I addressed this in a T&S post a while back.  I think Isaiah is clearly a composite text, but assuming that post-exilic texts have their origin completely in the post-exilic period rather than being made out of earlier texts seems problematic. It's also interesting that many elements that are most problematic as post-exilic texts are missing from the Book of Mormon. Cyrus being the obvious example although there are others. There's also the issue of the Book of Mormon being a loose translation (largely paraphrase rather than a more word for word translation like our KJV is to the underlying texts). The BoM clearly uses extensive KJV quotes or paraphrases when it isn't quoting or paraphrasing the texts in question. That suggests a "nearest match" type of loose translation at work which would in turn affect Isaiah passages on the gold plates.

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5 hours ago, tkv said:

Here is some non–Latter-day Saint scholarship discussing evidence that Isaiah II has linguistic usage (the Qal Passive) that dates it with pre-exilic Isaiah I.

Which more gets at the post exilic texts (which includes much of Isaiah I and not just deutero-Isaiah) being composed out of earlier texts. While dating arguments can be made for the final form of the text - figuring out the evolution of the text or what the text looked like before the exile is much, much more difficult.

Perhaps one day we'll have a discovery that tells us about pre-exilic Israel the way the Dead Sea Scrolls did Roman Israel.

14 hours ago, sunstoned said:

BYU is a top 100 tier university, or at least close to it.  They need to be mindful of the material they publish under their name.  Any publications under the BYU umbrella needs to be scholarly, peer reviewed and vetted. If not, then their reputation suffers.  Apolgitics articles defending some mythical acient American iron aged civilization that could field million men armies is without question unsupported by DNA, archaeology,  and language ingusistics. Which means they will not be taken seriously by the scientific world or by anyone with real critical thinking skills. 

I think it was unwise of FARMS to have associated with BYU precisely because tensions like this seemed obvious. I think some at BYU worry more about it than they should - but heaven knows some fields are pretty politicized and things like this matter. I think that bespeaks more about how politicized the academy in general is as a problematic state, mind you. Some politics which is anything but academic and scholarly gets accepted while other aspects don't. (Coming from the hard sciences I look at bemusement at how politicized some humanities departments have become with their "scholarship" seeming like silly word salad mixed with often at best pseudoscience hopefullness regarding what is scientific about biology) 

Million man armies seems unlikely, although half a million was common among several groups including Rome, the Aztec empire, the Maurya empire, and others. That said, the records of the armies almost always inflated their sizes. So you have, for example Herodotus saying that Xerxes army was over 5 million. I believe some Aztec accounts put their numbers up near a million even though I don't think anyone believes that was real. 

How that relates to the Book of Mormon is of course more complex. But exaggeration certainly is an issue that can't be neglected. 

Edited by clarkgoble

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In regards to the vast Book of Mormon armies Mormon led the people were supposedly tribalized with a confederation military leader (Mormon). Mormon could not control them. I have a hard time believing Mormon would not have cut down on the brutal excesses of the Nephite armies if he was a supreme leader. If he was put in charge of military affairs for an alliance his inability to act makes sense. When Mormon gives the list of the dead he talks about each leader’s ten thousand. Is that a number or a military formation? In that kind of environment of exaggeration and petty tribal politics everyone would insist they led the same kind of military force even if it was short of ten thousand or even a thousand.

That is just my guess at what happened in Mormon 6.

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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

Million man armies seems unlikely, although half a million was common among several groups including Rome, the Aztec empire, the Maurya empire, and others. That said, the records of the armies almost always inflated their sizes. So you have, for example Herodotus saying that Xerxes army was over 5 million. I believe some Aztec accounts put their numbers up near a million even though I don't think anyone believes that was real. 

I've also heard it said that being the "Captain of a Thousand" or "Captain of Ten Thousand" were titles, not actual records of how many soldiers they each had. Since the Book of Mormon doesn't record what the military structure of the Nephites were we don't know. The words they used could be best translated as "Captains of Hundreds/Thousands" and so that's what Joseph felt best to use in place of the others. 

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53 minutes ago, SettingDogStar said:

I've also heard it said that being the "Captain of a Thousand" or "Captain of Ten Thousand" were titles, not actual records of how many soldiers they each had. Since the Book of Mormon doesn't record what the military structure of the Nephites were we don't know. The words they used could be best translated as "Captains of Hundreds/Thousands" and so that's what Joseph felt best to use in place of the others. 

Yes, that's a very plausible theory as well. Although it only works for some passages. It's also worth noting that Mormon is compiling centuries or even a near millennia after the events for his passages. So errors in numbers that come only by reading a rather distant text should be expected. The bigger problems are in Mormon and Moroni's direct accounts. 

It's also worth noting that these passages in say Mormon 6 are also clearly rhetorically influenced by the early chapters of Judges where 10,000 is a common round number. i.e. Judges 1:4 "And Judah went up; and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand: and they slew of them in Bezek ten thousand men." How much of that is that paraphrase dependency upon the KJV and how much is on the underlying text just isn't clear. (And is probably unknowable without having the gold plates)

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Deutero-Isaiah seems like the least of the potential anachronisms. The NT references seem much more problematic. Or how about the apocalypses of Lehi and Nephi (1 Nephi 8 and 1 Nephi 11-14)? The apocalyptic genre didn't really develop until about the 2nd Century BC. I know there is proto-apocalyptic stuff earlier, but the apocalypses of 1 Nephi are clearly not proto-apocalyptic.

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5 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

Which more gets at the post exilic texts (which includes much of Isaiah I and not just deutero-Isaiah) being composed out of earlier texts.

Not sure I follow you here. Isaiah I is pre-exilic, is it not?

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3 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

Yes, that's a very plausible theory as well. Although it only works for some passages. It's also worth noting that Mormon is compiling centuries or even a near millennia after the events for his passages. So errors in numbers that come only by reading a rather distant text should be expected. The bigger problems are in Mormon and Moroni's direct accounts. 

It's also worth noting that these passages in say Mormon 6 are also clearly rhetorically influenced by the early chapters of Judges where 10,000 is a common round number. i.e. Judges 1:4 "And Judah went up; and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand: and they slew of them in Bezek ten thousand men." How much of that is that paraphrase dependency upon the KJV and how much is on the underlying text just isn't clear. (And is probably unknowable without having the gold plates)

I think we often take Josephs "most correct book" statement and think that means there are literally little to no errors any where in the book, which is for sure not true. Like you said Mormon was compiling for probably hundreds of different records and summarizing accounts, rounding numbers, or using incorrect information the best He could. Just because he had the Spirit doesn't make Him super infallible, or any of the writers he was taking from. Even Joseph Smith altered wording in his revelations or reworded them into poetic format for his pleasure. 

If we want to isolate one quote from Joseph and build a theology on that then there are a whole bunch of others that would be really interesting haha.

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5 hours ago, The Nehor said:

.......................... When Mormon gives the list of the dead he talks about each leader’s ten thousand. Is that a number or a military formation? In that kind of environment of exaggeration and petty tribal politics everyone would insist they led the same kind of military force even if it was short of ten thousand or even a thousand.

That is just my guess at what happened in Mormon 6.

Such standard terminology for military formations has long been the case, so that does condition what is being said.  But what does one do with the claim of 2 million slain (both men and women) in Ether 15:2?

6 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

...........................

Million man armies seems unlikely, although half a million was common among several groups including Rome, the Aztec empire, the Maurya empire, and others. That said, the records of the armies almost always inflated their sizes. So you have, for example Herodotus saying that Xerxes army was over 5 million. I believe some Aztec accounts put their numbers up near a million even though I don't think anyone believes that was real. 

How that relates to the Book of Mormon is of course more complex. But exaggeration certainly is an issue that can't be neglected. 

Hyperbole is common in virtually all ancient literature, so you are correct to point that out.  Some scholars estimate the actual size of Xerxes' army at 100,00 to 150,000, but the  Pyrrhic victory at Thermopylae and the defeat at Salamis meant that Xerxes subsequently lost most of his troops to starvation and disease.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Thermopylae .

However, Mesoamerica did in fact have populations concentrated in the millions, and Ether 15:2 is not at all out of line with anthropological fact in claiming an estimated 2 million men, women (and presumably children) dead due to the war.  El Mirador (600 BC - 300 AD) alone is estimated to have had about 100,000 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesoamerica ), the same for Tikal, while the city of Teotihuacán had from 100,000 to 200,000 (https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teotihuacán ).  At its peak, the overall Maya population was around 2 million (https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-americas/maya ), which doesn't even count the neighboring cultures of Mesoamerica.  The population estimate of Mesoamerica and Mexico at the arrival of the Conquistadores under Cortes was around 12 million.  Within a century, only 1 million remained, a huge demographic disaster.

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7 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Such standard terminology for military formations has long been the case, so that does condition what is being said.  But what does one do with the claim of 2 million slain (both men and women) in Ether 15:2?

Hyperbole is common in virtually all ancient literature, so you are correct to point that out.  Some scholars estimate the actual size of Xerxes' army at 100,00 to 150,000, but the  Pyrrhic victory at Thermopylae and the defeat at Salamis meant that Xerxes subsequently lost most of his troops to starvation and disease.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Thermopylae .

However, Mesoamerica did in fact have populations concentrated in the millions, and Ether 15:2 is not at all out of line with anthropological fact in claiming an estimated 2 million men, women (and presumably children) dead due to the war.  El Mirador (600 BC - 300 AD) alone is estimated to have had about 100,000 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesoamerica ), the same for Tikal, while the city of Teotihuacán had from 100,000 to 200,000 (https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teotihuacán ).  At its peak, the overall Maya population was around 2 million (https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-americas/maya ), which doesn't even count the neighboring cultures of Mesoamerica.  The population estimate of Mesoamerica and Mexico at the arrival of the Conquistadores under Cortes was around 12 million.  Within a century, only 1 million remained, a huge demographic disaster.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if the numbers were "inflated." The fact that 1) they're always rounded to a perfect number and 2) unless the Nephites got inflated by some other groups in the land (which is possible) they really wouldn't have gotten up to that many people that fast. I'm not an expert at all but this is just my observation.

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48 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Such standard terminology for military formations has long been the case, so that does condition what is being said.  But what does one do with the claim of 2 million slain (both men and women) in Ether 15:2?

Not sure but since the conflict had gone on for at least years and possibly decades it does not seem that implausible a casualty figure. If they all died in one battle.....yeah, that would strain credulity.

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11 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

Not sure but since the conflict had gone on for at least years and possibly decades it does not seem that implausible a casualty figure. If they all died in one battle.....yeah, that would strain credulity.

True, isn't that why the Cumorah in New York as the location for the last battle is pretty iffy? 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, tkv said:

Not sure I follow you here. Isaiah I is pre-exilic, is it not?

Parts are but in general many chapters in proto-Isaiah are considered post-exile. A few of the post-exilic chapters of proto-Isaiah are in the Book of Mormon. One popular theory is that the more prose-like passages were originally commentary on the original Isaiah and had an initial composition at the time of Josiah. Since the commentary and original text were on the same scrolls they became merged. This is also in keeping with what Nephi and Jacob do with Isaiah although they're more properly doing something pesher or midrash like. (Paraphrases where the changes reflect ideas about the underlying text leading to expansions) 

Any good mainstream commentary on Isaiah should go through the authorship issues for particular chapters. Typically scholars separate out chapter 1 and then see chapter 12 as the original end of the first Isaiah. Chapters 13-23 while part of proto-Isaiah are typically seen as either a separate composition or more frequently a different later author. Even if one is skeptical of late dates, there's clearly a very different style, focus and so forth. Some scholars also see late redactions either around the time of Josiah or in the post-exilic period to emphasize the decline of Assyria. Chapters 28-33 are either seen as the same author as 2-12 or at least written slightly later (under Hezekiah) with same style. These are key texts with the Book of Mormon for various reasons particularly how they apply in the new context of alliances with Egypt and an external threat. (Assyira in the text, but reconceptualized as Babylon at the time of Jeremiah) You then have Isaiah 36-39, which quotes from 2 Kings and has more historical bits. Many might see it as composed during the end of Isaiah's life or shortly thereafter.

Beyond that scholars might argue for particular passages within proto-Isaiah beyond the above as reflecting post-exilic redactions or editing or even editing at the time of Jeremiah.

As I said though, one problem is that even if the final form is post-exilic to the text, that typically says little about the evolution of the text to its final form.

5 hours ago, JarMan said:

Deutero-Isaiah seems like the least of the potential anachronisms. The NT references seem much more problematic. Or how about the apocalypses of Lehi and Nephi (1 Nephi 8 and 1 Nephi 11-14)? The apocalyptic genre didn't really develop until about the 2nd Century BC. I know there is proto-apocalyptic stuff earlier, but the apocalypses of 1 Nephi are clearly not proto-apocalyptic.

I think the text clearly reflects a loose paraphrase form of translation. So such things are only problematic if one rejects the idea of the loose translation. 

You're certainly right that apocalypses proper arise during the Hellenistic period. Further proto-apocalypses such as in Isaiah are somewhat different. However I also think that Nephi's apocalypse has significant difference from the more Hellenistic apocalypses even if it shares some elements with say 1 Enoch. (In particular the Canaanite like geography of the land of the dead, the land of the gods and so forth) 

Part of the problem is simply the lack of texts from pre-Hellenistic Judaism. So there's a strong argument from silence going on. Second there are those, like Margaret Barker, who see in particular the Enochian tradition as going back to pre-exilic times. Without texts though there's no real way to adjudicate the disagreement. Some elements, such as the theory that Jewish dualism came out of Persia and were late developments, have come under recent critique. The main monograph on apocalypses is John Collins seminal work. It's somewhat dated in a few ways given more than 30 years old, albeit now in a third revised edition. But it's still typically what other scholars react to and I'm not sure there's been any major revisions of the thinking. Just making use of better sources such as the full text Dead Sea Scrolls.

Collins notes that while some books in 1 Enoch, for instance, presuppose earlier traditions. So Genesis 5-6 presuppose both the Astronomical Book and the Book of the Watchers. That of course is taken a late final redaction and editing view of Genesis including changes by P. But it does assume an Enochian tradition predating the Hellenistic origins of the apocalyptic tradition. What form those earlier versions of the texts took is up for debate as is their original dates. So the question is both the content and dating of these earlier traditions.

To say that the Book of Mormon is fully anachronistic one must identify what traditions within the genre are late (rather than the genre as a whole) that Nephi makes use of. Inherently there will be an argument from silence, but in some cases one can make stronger elements for particular parts. The earliest apocalypse is 1 Enoch with at least the oldest parts of it (ignoring later redactions and editing to these earlier parts) being around the 3rd century BCE but making use of earlier traditions and possibly texts. We know the text presupposes Babylonian lore - likely picked up from the exile. The question then becomes what elements of apocalypse are generally seen as Babylonian or Persian and whether those are in the Book of Mormon.

The main part of apocalypse that I think Nephi is mostly missing is the heavenly tour. I say mostly since one could argue for the Canaanite geography (although this appears in parts of 1 Enoch as well). Nephi is brought up a mountain rather than to a different world or through the heavens (such as in Merkabah literature) or even through palaces (such as in Hekhalot literature). We don't even have much like Akkadian heavenly ascents although there are Akkadian similarities with the tree of life and the mountain of the gods.. It lacks astronomical focus that we see in many apocalypses or the broad cosmic elements. While there is a lot of symbolism that can be found in dream interpretation in Genesis and thus isn't uniquely apocalyptic. While there are clear Canaanite or perhaps Akkadian elements in the geography, there are also clear Egyptian ones as well. However frankly many elements are just unique to Nephi and Lehi's vision. Further Nephi and Lehi's visions show a clear dependency on Genesis 2-3 - or at least the earlier tradition that became that narrative.

How anachronistic you see those as being is probably tied to how anachronistic you see references to the Adam narrative. 

 

Edited by clarkgoble

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2 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

I think the text clearly reflects a loose paraphrase form of translation. So such things are only problematic if one rejects the idea of the loose translation. 

You're certainly right that apocalypses proper arise during the Hellenistic period. Further proto-apocalypses such as in Isaiah are somewhat different. However I also think that Nephi's apocalypse has significant difference from the more Hellenistic apocalypses even if it shares some elements with say 1 Enoch. (In particular the Canaanite like geography of the land of the dead, the land of the gods and so forth) 

Part of the problem is simply the lack of texts from pre-Hellenistic Judaism. So there's a strong argument from silence going on. Second there are those, like Margaret Barker, who see in particular the Enochian tradition as going back to pre-exilic times. Without texts though there's no real way to adjudicate the disagreement. Some elements, such as the theory that Jewish dualism came out of Persia and were late developments, have come under recent critique. The main monograph on apocalypses is John Collins seminal work. It's somewhat dated in a few ways given more than 30 years old, albeit now in a third revised edition. But it's still typically what other scholars react to and I'm not sure there's been any major revisions of the thinking. Just making use of better sources such as the full text Dead Sea Scrolls.

Collins notes that while some books in 1 Enoch, for instance, presuppose earlier traditions. So Genesis 5-6 presuppose both the Astronomical Book and the Book of the Watchers. That of course is taken a late final redaction and editing view of Genesis including changes by P. But it does assume an Enochian tradition predating the Hellenistic origins of the apocalyptic tradition. What form those earlier versions of the texts took is up for debate as is their original dates. So the question is both the content and dating of these earlier traditions.

To say that the Book of Mormon is fully anachronistic one must identify what traditions within the genre are late (rather than the genre as a whole) that Nephi makes use of. Inherently there will be an argument from silence, but in some cases one can make stronger elements for particular parts. The earliest apocalypse is 1 Enoch with at least the oldest parts of it (ignoring later redactions and editing to these earlier parts) being around the 3rd century BCE but making use of earlier traditions and possibly texts. We know the text presupposes Babylonian lore - likely picked up from the exile. The question then becomes what elements of apocalypse are generally seen as Babylonian or Persian and whether those are in the Book of Mormon.

The main part of apocalypse that I think Nephi is mostly missing is the heavenly tour. I say mostly since one could argue for the Canaanite geography (although this appears in parts of 1 Enoch as well). Nephi is brought up a mountain rather than to a different world or through the heavens (such as in Merkabah literature) or even through palaces (such as in Hekhalot literature). We don't even have much like Akkadian heavenly ascents although there are Akkadian similarities with the tree of life and the mountain of the gods.. It lacks astronomical focus that we see in many apocalypses or the broad cosmic elements. While there is a lot of symbolism that can be found in dream interpretation in Genesis and thus isn't uniquely apocalyptic. While there are clear Canaanite or perhaps Akkadian elements in the geography, there are also clear Egyptian ones as well. However frankly many elements are just unique to Nephi and Lehi's vision. Further Nephi and Lehi's visions show a clear dependency on Genesis 2-3 - or at least the earlier tradition that became that narrative.

How anachronistic you see those as being is probably tied to how anachronistic you see references to the Adam narrative. 

 

I guess I don't see the apocalypse of 1 Nephi as being directly dependent on Genesis. To me it seems dependent on John's Revelation. Also, I don't know what you mean when you say we are lacking texts from pre-Hellenistic Judaism. Aren't many of the Prophets of the OT dated to the Babylonian or Persian periods?

As far as the differences between the Book of Mormon and ancient Judaic apocalypses, most of the differences are from the fact that Nephi is seeing the history of the western hemisphere or, more importantly, from the fact that he is seeing a very Christianized version of history. The fact that he is only caught up onto a high mountain rather than into heaven seems like a very minor difference considering that he sees the heavens open up and angels descending. Plus, Lehi's vision in 1 Nephi 1 already covers that ground.

In summary, Lehi's and Nephi's apocalypse looks to me to be heavily dependent on the Book of Revelation and later Christianity. Also, chapters 13 and 14 of 1 Nephi look to be describing events of the 16th and 17th Century including the evils of the Catholic Church, the Reformation, the killing of martyrs, the religious wars, the defeat of the Spanish Armada, the colonization of America, the mistreatment of the Indians, the proselytization of the Indians, and the attempts at converting the Jews. Protestants of early modern times saw all of these events in apocalyptic terms. So, to me, these chapters are anachronistic to 6th Century BC Judaism but fit perfectly into an early modern European conception of the world.

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5 hours ago, SettingDogStar said:

True, isn't that why the Cumorah in New York as the location for the last battle is pretty iffy? 

Outside of Mesoamerica, we simply don't have such large concentrations of population.  In addition, if one wants to move large forces (or an entire people) somewhere, logistics becomes a major problem.  That is why Xerxes I lost most of his troops to starvation and disease.

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11 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

{snip}We know the text presupposes Babylonian lore - likely picked up from the exile. {snip}

Clark, why must we make any presumption on parallels/borrowings from the Mesopotamian corpus occurring during or after the Exile?

If we accept Abram's story as having a basis in [otherwise unattested] fact, the Hebrews began in the land between the rivers.  Thus the Mesopotamian sources are their own sources and could have followed them in their peregrinations.

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This has made me curious. Do we have almost nothing in terms of pre-exile Israelite texts? I thought we had a little but I am not sure where I got that impression.

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From Barker's essay "Beyond the Veil of the Temple: The High Priestly Origins of the Apocalyses"

Quote

If this reconstruction of the world beyond the veil is correct, it illuminates several issues. First, the mixture of subjects in the apocalyptic texts can be explained: throne visions, lists of the secrets of creation and surveys of history which deal not only with the past but also with the future are the knowledge given to those who passed beyond the veil of the temple, the raz nihyeh of the Qumran texts. Second, it suggests that the material in the apocalypses originated with the high priests since they were the ones who passed through the veil into the holy of holies. It gives a context for understanding the known priestly writings of the Hebrew scriptures with their concern for measurements and dates, and their conception of history as an unfolding plan41. Third, it establishes that this tradition was controversial as early as the exile and invites a closer look at what happened to the temple cult in the seventh century, the process so often described as ‘Josiah’s reform’. It explains, for example, why the description of the temple in 1 Kings mentions neither the chariot throne nor the veil and why the essential features of the world beyond the temple veil - the cherubim, the anointing oil - were later said to have disappeared from the temple not as a result of the Babylonians but in the time of Josiah

http://www.margaretbarker.com/Papers/BeyondtheVeil.pdf

There is a lot more.  Her commentary on Revelation goes into how Revelation involves traditional priestly material.  She notes themes language and imagery that appear in the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well, and makes a case that Revelation is quite literally, as it says in the first lines, "a vision of Jesus" that he passed to his disciples.  That is, the earliest Christian revelation, and not the last.   In a place where she compares aspects of Ezekiel's vision to Revelation, in Paradigms Regained, I showed that all of the same parallels appear in the Book of Mormon.  (Once more, missing the convenient links at Maxwell Institute.)

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonburg, PA

 

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1 hour ago, USU78 said:

Clark, why must we make any presumption on parallels/borrowings from the Mesopotamian corpus occurring during or after the Exile?

If we accept Abram's story as having a basis in [otherwise unattested] fact, the Hebrews began in the land between the rivers.  Thus the Mesopotamian sources are their own sources and could have followed them in their peregrinations.

The parallels go well beyond that in terms of the mountains and so forth. Of course the origins of those accounts could well have a basis in actual geography although I'm not sure how we could know that. We should also note that much of the Exodus narrative also involves in various ways a cosmic mountain, setting up a pattern. That pattern then gets repressed by the P & D sources who want to centralize authority in the temple (first Solomon's before the exile and then the new/restored one after the Persian enabled return). The Enochian tradition ends up being a kind of repressed opposition to that. As I've mentioned before it's interesting how Nephi returns more to the Exodus pattern in many, many ways in contrast to what we see being pushed for by the Josiah reforms.

An other interesting way to potentially read Nephi/Lehi's vision is that it includes a critique of the wider Canaanite model of the gods. Look at how the temple in the vision is actually a kind of hell with the people there ridiculing the faithful and become a type for pride. So the tall and spacious building could easily be seen as the temple of Baal he builds. Of course many of those elements are also in the Exodus narrative as well. Lots of scholars have set it against Canaanite tradition. So the portable tabernacle of Moses is a copy of what he sees on the cosmic mountain. The defeat of the Egyptians in the Dead Sea is a parallel to the battle against Tiamat as chaos. Those images then get echoed in early Hebrew scripture especially Psalms and Isaiah.

While the mountain and geography clearly exist in Hellenistic apocalypses -- portions of 1 Enoch being the obvious example - these earlier archetypes seem more significant in Nephi's vision and point (IMO) to a pre-exilic period. So it's something like an apocalypse, but different from the proto-apocalypse in many ways but also (IMO) different from Hellenistic apocalypse. Yes there's the heavy symbolism you see in Daniel, but you see that in the earlier dream tradition of Genesis too.

More significant are the elements of the Sargon narrative. We see that famously with the Moses narrative where Moses, like Sargon, is placed in the river by his mother and then raised as royalty. However the very notion of the river ordeal which is common in Sargon motifs is in Nephi and Lehi's vision. The river ordeal, here in a dream like symbolic state, involves passing through the river to ascertain guilt. This has a secondary feature as a river separating the land of the living from the dead. In Canaanite mythology the entrance to the netherworld is at the headwaters of El's throne. (Although Canaanite myths lack the river ordeal - although that may just be due to the paucity of texts) The place of the river ordeal hasn't been discussed relative to Nephi much surprisingly. I say that because I think Nephi see both the Mosaic parallels but also the broader Akkadian ones. (We should recall again his family's background as a refugee from the northern Kingdom).  

There are pretty obvious parallels to the Gilgamesh narrative too. Tablet 4 where Gilgamesh attempts to ascend the cosmic mountain and perform a dream ritual - he has dreams with various symbolism. Then when he later attempts to enter the netherworld (tablet 9) he arrives at the twin mountains at the end of the earth, enters a tunnel He has to follow a road in darkness until he arrives at the garden of the gods. (This is all in a quest for immortality) He has to cross the waters of death (an other river ordeal - with similar myth to the ferryman of the styx in Greek mythology) 

9 hours ago, JarMan said:

I guess I don't see the apocalypse of 1 Nephi as being directly dependent on Genesis. To me it seems dependent on John's Revelation. Also, I don't know what you mean when you say we are lacking texts from pre-Hellenistic Judaism. Aren't many of the Prophets of the OT dated to the Babylonian or Persian periods?

You don't see the tree of life, and the river flowing from as a a dreamlike return to Eden? That's a pretty common motif and very explicit in the dream. It's an Eden more on the Canaanite and perhaps Akkadian models, but still a return to Eden. It's pretty explicit in places like 1 Nephi 11:25. That's an interpretation focused take although it's worth noting that unlike in the Hellenistic period we don't have a temple at the headwaters. It's generally thought that Eden becomes the temple in the Hellenistic period particularly in apocalypses. Yet Nephi's vision lacks that. And of course this is also tied to explicitly pre-exilic texts such as Isaiah 8:5-9 or even Isaiah 33 which offers quite a few parallels to Lehi's & Nephi's dream.

When I say we're lacking pre-Hellenistic texts I don't mean later texts inferred to originate in pre-hellenistic times, I mean literally pre-Hellenistic texts. We don't know for instance how our Ezekiel text might vary from the original. Likewise we know the Hellenistic compiled old testament contains many references to earlier texts not in the canon. We don't have any of those missing texts. We're inferring from what survived things from the earlier period. But we have no positive knowledge of the texts. An archaeological discovery of many texts from pre-exilic times would almost certainly surprise us in various ways.

 

Edited by clarkgoble
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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

.............................

More significant are the elements of the Sargon narrative. We see that famously with the Moses narrative where Moses, like Sargon, is placed in the river by his mother and then raised as royalty. However the very notion of the river ordeal which is common in Sargon motifs is in Nephi and Lehi's vision. The river ordeal, here in a dream like symbolic state, involves passing through the river to ascertain guilt. This has a secondary feature as a river separating the land of the living from the dead. In Canaanite mythology the entrance to the netherworld is at the headwaters of El's throne. (Although Canaanite myths lack the river ordeal - although that may just be due to the paucity of texts) The place of the river ordeal hasn't been discussed relative to Nephi much surprisingly. I say that because I think Nephi see both the Mosaic parallels but also the broader Akkadian ones. (We should recall again his family's background as a refugee from the northern Kingdom).  

There are pretty obvious parallels to the Gilgamesh narrative too. Tablet 4 where Gilgamesh attempts to ascend the cosmic mountain and perform a dream ritual - he has dreams with various symbolism. Then when he later attempts to enter the netherworld (tablet 9) he arrives at the twin mountains at the end of the earth, enters a tunnel He has to follow a road in darkness until he arrives at the garden of the gods. (This is all in a quest for immortality) He has to cross the waters of death (an other river ordeal - with similar myth to the ferryman of the styx in Greek mythology) 

You don't see the tree of life, and the river flowing from as a a dreamlike return to Eden? That's a pretty common motif and very explicit in the dream. It's an Eden more on the Canaanite and perhaps Akkadian models, but still a return to Eden. It's pretty explicit in places like 1 Nephi 11:25. That's an interpretation focused take although it's worth noting that unlike in the Hellenistic period we don't have a temple at the headwaters. It's generally thought that Eden becomes the temple in the Hellenistic period particularly in apocalypses. Yet Nephi's vision lacks that. And of course this is also tied to explicitly pre-exilic texts such as Isaiah 8:5-9 or even Isaiah 33 which offers quite a few parallels to Lehi's & Nephi's dream.............................

Yes.  The late Frank Moore Cross said:

Quote

[t]he mythological lore of Ugarit will be increasingly important for apocalyptic studies.  One thinks of the superb paper of J. A. Emerton, "The Origin of the Son of Man Imagery," . 

Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, 345, and n. 8 for quotation, citing Emerton in Journal of Theological Studies, 9 (1958), 225-242; cf. Cross, 346, n. 13, where he states that Jewish apocalyptic was derived from "old Canaanite mythic lore."  See also the comments of Matthew Black in Bible Review, III/2 (Summer 1987), 39, on the very early nature of the Enoch tradition (cf. 19,21, 23).  Cf. E. T. Mullen, Jr., The Assembly of the Gods, Harvard Semitic Monograph 24 (Scholars Press, 1980), 150-158; R. J. Clifford, The Cosmic Mountain in Canaan and in the OT (Cambridge, Mass.: 1972); B. Margulis, "Weltbaum and Weltberg in Ugaritic Literature," ZAW, 86 (1974):1-23; Conrad L’Heureux, Rank Among the Canaanite Gods: El, Dagan, and the Rephaim, Harvard Semitic Monograph 21 (Missoula: Scholars Press, 1979).

In his The Ascension of the Apostle and the Heavenly Book (King and Saviour III) (1950), Geo Widengren demonstrated that the numinous heavenly tablets (dupšīmatī) go together with the lot-casting equipment (nadū parsē).  In ancient Mesopotamian religion, these heavenly tablets were central to the annual royal enthronment ritual, the king receiving the book at his ascension into the assembly of the gods (puhru ilani), and also receiving the cedar staff (symbol of the Tree of Life) and oracles.  These tablets are the tablets of destiny, wisdom, of the mystery of heaven & earth, etc.  In the Babylonian Enuma elish IV, 121-122, for example, the assembly of the gods under Marduk meets at the New Year Festival in the Chamber of Destiny and "decides the fate of the coming year," having conquered Kingu (the husband of Tiamat) and taking the tablets from him (cf. Laban) and affixing them to Marduk's breast.  The numinous tablets are carried thus in a pouch or bag (takāltu), in which they are sealed (kunukku).  All rulers receive the cosmic relics at enthronement, as with Mosiah II (Mosiah 1:16) and Joseph Smith, Jr.  The ruler is thereby commissioned to slay the enemy, even Labbu.  Again the ritual association of the slaying of Laban by Nephi is inescapable, even including the similarity of name of the evil entity!  All of this likewise is part of the call of a prophet, as John W. Welch has shown in his study of the call of Lehi. 

The primordial Enmeduranki [= Enoch], the ancestor of the bārū-college (the association of cult-prophets & seers).  Widengren, Ascension of the Apostle, 7-9.  See Helge S. Kvanvig, Roots of Apocalyptic: The Mesopotamian Background of the Enoch Figure and the Son of Man (1988), whose thesis is that the fundamental basis of Enoch & Daniel is Mesopotamian (Enoch = Enmeduranki & Uanadapa & Ziusudra); James VanderKam, Enoch: A Man for All Generations (1995); VanderKam, Enoch and the Growth of an Apocalyptic Tradition (1984), for the same Enoch-Enmeduranki comparison.  Like Enoch (and later Elijah), Enmenduranki, the seventh Ante-Diluvian hero in Babylonian tradition, received revelation, and was taken directly by God and did not die (Gen 5:24, II Ki 2:11).

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1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

All rulers receive the cosmic relics at enthronement, as with Mosiah II (Mosiah 1:16) and Joseph Smith, Jr.  The ruler is thereby commissioned to slay the enemy, even Labbu.  Again the ritual association of the slaying of Laban by Nephi is inescapable, even including the similarity of name of the evil entity!  All of this likewise is part of the call of a prophet, as John W. Welch has shown in his study of the call of Lehi. 

Labbu = Lion [Ugar.]; Labi'a = Lion [Heb].  Laban/Labi'a makes a lot more sense than what I've been thinking for years [white = hypocrite/spoiled milk = judgment poured out on the ground].  Laban is a lot more menacing as a lion figure, and it fits so much better with the military influence of Nephi's Laban mentioned in 1 Ne.  This also makes me wonder if it would be worthwhile to look for other comparisons between Nephi and Samson besides being both "large and mighty" lion slayers who were both bound with cords by enemies.

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2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

In his The Ascension of the Apostle and the Heavenly Book (King and Saviour III) (1950), Geo Widengren demonstrated that the numinous heavenly tablets (dupšīmatī) go together with the lot-casting equipment (nadū parsē).  

Worth noting though that while lots or similar tools to learn the future are absent in Nephi's vision even though he's shown future events. So there's a parallel but also a big difference from the broader cultural parallels. 

2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

 In ancient Mesopotamian religion, these heavenly tablets were central to the annual royal enthronment ritual, the king receiving the book at his ascension into the assembly of the gods (puhru ilani), and also receiving the cedar staff (symbol of the Tree of Life) and oracles. 

Yup. And these pop up in later traditions in the Roman era. More particularly though are the parallels in the Mosaic narratives and how apparently those are used in the lost 116 pages such as the quote I gave from Bradley points out. You get a crown a staff/rod/shepherd's crook and then the ball normally representing authority over the world or knowledge of everything in the world. Those then remain tokens of kingship used even today by Queen Elizabeth or the recently stolen Swedish items. The orb is most interesting since it seems to represent an Urim and Thummim symbolically in our temple but also was what Mosiah appears to have received from the portable tabernacle to replace the Liahona which was in many ways a similar device and shape. 

In Nephi's vision we have the fruit of the tree, which beyond the obvious Genesis parallels, also parallels some Egyptian aspects of the lotus flower as an orb in various kingship rituals that then spreads in various forms through mesopotamia. (Flowering trees no longer as the lotus, but other sorts of trees) So you get this weird symbolic drift with fruit, flowers, scrying/fortune spheres, and orb as earth. Often with it being all of them simultaneously.

2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

All rulers receive the cosmic relics at enthronement, as with Mosiah II (Mosiah 1:16) and Joseph Smith, Jr.  The ruler is thereby commissioned to slay the enemy, even Labbu.  Again the ritual association of the slaying of Laban by Nephi is inescapable, even including the similarity of name of the evil entity!  All of this likewise is part of the call of a prophet, as John W. Welch has shown in his study of the call of Lehi.

That's really interesting as I'd not considered that aspect of Laban. But in a certain way it's a key part of the Exodus pattern. That Exodus pattern also seems to be the key part of Lehi/Nephi's dream. Of course the Exodus pattern is used in Hellenistic apocalypses somewhat, albeit not quite as extensively as Nephi's. So you have elements of it in say Daniel 7.

2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

See Helge S. Kvanvig, Roots of Apocalyptic: The Mesopotamian Background of the Enoch Figure and the Son of Man (1988), whose thesis is that the fundamental basis of Enoch & Daniel is Mesopotamian (Enoch = Enmeduranki & Uanadapa & Ziusudra); James VanderKam, Enoch: A Man for All Generations (1995); VanderKam, Enoch and the Growth of an Apocalyptic Tradition (1984), for the same Enoch-Enmeduranki comparison.  Like Enoch (and later Elijah), Enmenduranki, the seventh Ante-Diluvian hero in Babylonian tradition, received revelation, and was taken directly by God and did not die (Gen 5:24, II Ki 2:11).

The question then becomes what elements of apocalypses are both pre-exilic and from outside Israel. Of course many scholars looking a Mesopotamian backgrounds tend to focus in on the Babylonian exile as picking up these elements.

It's interesting that Enoch is absent from the Book of Mormon even though he's clearly of focus for Joseph particularly as he does his Genesis translation. The figure, even when not named, that seems the archetype for Nephi is Moses.

 

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3 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

You don't see the tree of life, and the river flowing from as a a dreamlike return to Eden? That's a pretty common motif and very explicit in the dream. It's an Eden more on the Canaanite and perhaps Akkadian models, but still a return to Eden. It's pretty explicit in places like 1 Nephi 11:25. That's an interpretation focused take although it's worth noting that unlike in the Hellenistic period we don't have a temple at the headwaters. It's generally thought that Eden becomes the temple in the Hellenistic period particularly in apocalypses. Yet Nephi's vision lacks that. And of course this is also tied to explicitly pre-exilic texts such as Isaiah 8:5-9 or even Isaiah 33 which offers quite a few parallels to Lehi's & Nephi's dream.

The tree of life and the river are found in Revelation 2:7, 21:6, 22:1-2, 14, 17. Revelation is undoubtedly drawing from Genesis, but I think we have to conclude 1 Nephi is taking from Revelation. It uses a variety of the other Revelation imagery, as well, such as the great whore sitting on many waters, a lamb, a great pit, and other things. Plus, Nephi specifically refers to John and his apocalypse in chapter 14. We are explicitly meant to draw the conclusion that the two accounts are related.

3 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

When I say we're lacking pre-Hellenistic texts I don't mean later texts inferred to originate in pre-hellenistic times, I mean literally pre-Hellenistic texts. We don't know for instance how our Ezekiel text might vary from the original. Likewise we know the Hellenistic compiled old testament contains many references to earlier texts not in the canon. We don't have any of those missing texts. We're inferring from what survived things from the earlier period. But we have no positive knowledge of the texts. An archaeological discovery of many texts from pre-exilic times would almost certainly surprise us in various ways.

If we're being fair we have to deal with the evidence we have. I don't think we can project our own preferences into the historical gaps and think we have done an objective analysis.

Sympathetic Book of Mormon scholars, by and large, have taken a medieval approach to Book of Mormon scholarship. By this I mean that rather than reading it with an appropriate dose of skepticism they assume that what it says about itself (and what tradition says about it) is true. When modern biblical scholars stripped those assumptions from their study of the bible they finally began to understand when and by whom the bible was really composed. I think more Book of Mormon scholars need to do the same thing. This is the approach I am attempting to take, though I don't claim to be a scholar. 

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36 minutes ago, JarMan said:

The tree of life and the river are found in Revelation 2:7, 21:6, 22:1-2, 14, 17. Revelation is undoubtedly drawing from Genesis, but I think we have to conclude 1 Nephi is taking from Revelation. It uses a variety of the other Revelation imagery, as well, such as the great whore sitting on many waters, a lamb, a great pit, and other things. Plus, Nephi specifically refers to John and his apocalypse in chapter 14. We are explicitly meant to draw the conclusion that the two accounts are related.

There's no doubt the text of the Book of Mormon is highly dependent upon the KJV especially the NT. So in that sense the entire text is anachronistic. The argument is that this is an artifact of the translation. 

To the text itself, there's certainly imagery of a great church -- associated I think in the vision with the pseudo-temple potentially of Baal. However it's not represented by the whore as in Revelation. Quoting from 1 Nephi 13:7-8

"And it came to pass that I beheld this great and abominable church; and I saw the devil that he was the founder of it. And I also saw gold, and silver, and silks, and scarlets, and fine-twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing; and I saw many harlots. And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine-twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church. And also for the praise of the world do they destroy the saints of God, and bring them down into captivity."

This then transfigures into the church being the prostitute (i.e. 1 Nephi 14:10-12) However the imagery is hardly unique to Revelation. Rather Revelation is taking common imagery for apostasy from the OT. Hosea is the most obvous example but you find it in Jeremiah and Isaiah as well. (Admittedly Is 57 likely post-exilic but we're talking about pre-hellenistic imagery here) Jeremiah is particularly key since Lehi is a contemporary. So it's hard to ignore Jeremiah 3:1-4:41. So it's fairly trivial to see Nephi as interpreting archetypes of faithful Israel versus unfaithful Israel. The translation puts this as two churches but perhaps two communities would be more accurate - one the apostate version of the other. That's simply not anachronistic but it the imagery just before the exile. Further, the persecution of both Lehi and Jeremiah makes the imagery in Nephi's vision fit with unrighteous Israel who is being warned. We know that's the meaning of the imagery since Nephi makes it explicit in the opening verses of 1 Nephi 14. 

So despite the similarity to Revelation, the meaning fits the pre-exilic context better. Although I'd certainly again never deny the influence of the KJV text on the translation.

I'd note also that Revelation is famously using Babylon and the exile (with the whore being Babylon) as an image for Rome and Israel. In other words the imagery of Revelation is precisely out of the period Nephi is living. So I'd argue you have the direction of causaltiy backwards. The author of Revelation is using pre-existing imagery from apostate Israeal and Babylon. I wouldn't be surprised to find that the word translated as devil is actually Baal which would then parallel Jeremiah even more strongly.

Edited by clarkgoble
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