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Tad Callister: A Case for the Book of Mormon

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14 minutes ago, rockpond said:

I don't have data so I try to avoid saying why most leave.

I added my response to your because I think it is important to remember that "most" may also not fit the description you provided.

It's possible, but there is survey evidence for what I stated. As I mentioned there are reasons to doubt Reiss' data as representative. It's an internet poll based I believe on existing surveys for product data who were Mormon. They then broke it up demographically I believe primarily via income and the like. I don't know if they adjusted for geographic region meaning it may well not be a representative sample. (I couldn't really tell from their methodology explanation - although I'm going by memory of what I read months ago)

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3 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

It's possible, but there is survey evidence for what I stated. As I mentioned there are reasons to doubt Reiss' data as representative. It's an internet poll based I believe on existing surveys for product data who were Mormon. They then broke it up demographically I believe primarily via income and the like. I don't know if they adjusted for geographic region meaning it may well not be a representative sample. (I couldn't really tell from their methodology explanation - although I'm going by memory of what I read months ago)

Yes.  But Reiss’ study is specifically about millennials so it doesn’t speak to why or how many people of all ages are leaving. 

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16 minutes ago, rockpond said:

So many of the people I know who have left the church (or lost traditional belief while still maintaining activity) do not fit this description.  I know staunch defenders of the faith who have left.  The Elders Quorum President who was diligently striving to help a member of his quorum through a "crisis of faith" when he discovered things he couldn't reconcile.  I know couples who were so strong in the church, both RM's, baptizing their kids and teaching them the gospel -- they left.  Our local institute director left the church a few years ago (he was actually the institute director when he resigned his membership).  He and his wife were also EFY directors.  My current ward roster has a former bishop, high priests, and even a guy who was published in the Ensign all on our unofficial "do not contact" list.

Yeah... there are "Nones" and millienials who just don't feel a draw to religion and they are leaving the church.  But there are others who are/were as faithful as they come.

John Dehlin mentioned he gets calls once a week now from those that struggle and in that mix he mentioned stake presidents. I'm sure there are hundreds (not all stake presidents) that just don't tell anyone of their faith crises. I was an active member for over 30 years and a TR holder that was always current. So I don't think I fit the bill of the "nones".

The shock I had in my former ward was a couple that were once my home teachers at one time and the gal and I served in the RS together. Her husband would give the most incredible talks in church. She and him would go to a new temple every anniversary and serve there. Very solid members until, I don't know what happened, he lost his testimony and is either fully inactive or for all I know, resigned. 

There is definitely something brewing out there and it may or may not be the CES letter, or just the new age internet. Nearly all of my son's close friends that served missions and married in the temple, are going through the FC, he tells me. They all talk about all of this new stuff they are learning about.

My son full on resigned and told me recently. He's 30 now, it hit him pretty hard, my husband doesn't know yet. I wonder what his grandma will do if she finds out. Her daughter, my SIL, does genealogy and always asking all the family to get new births and dates etc. to her. I wonder if somehow she will see that he resigned and tell my MIL. :(

I think it's quite sad, because I do believe there are many good things in the church that many lose when they can no longer support going, either with integrity of knowing about what they didn't know or feel what they found out is enough to let it all go. The sad part, is that they are now in a spot of having to build back up a new belief of something. Or they let it all go, the beliefs. It's good in a way, they re-learn all of it w/o help and do it themselves w/o any bias from others.

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57 minutes ago, rockpond said:

Yes.  But Reiss’ study is specifically about millennials so it doesn’t speak to why or how many people of all ages are leaving. 

That's not correct. While Reiss has discussed millennials a lot (with occasional questionable conclusions) the survey itself has 42% Millennials, 30% Gen-X, and 28% combined Baby Boomers and Silent Generation. This doesn't mirror the self-identification demographics by Pew (although I think there's questions about Pew's 2007 representation given the rumored oversampling of Utah County). 

Edited by clarkgoble

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7 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

That's not correct. While Reiss has discussed millennials a lot (with occasional questionable conclusions) the survey itself has 42% Millennials, 30% Gen-X, and 28% combined Baby Boomers and Silent Generation. This doesn't mirror the self-identification demographics by Pew (although I think there's questions about Pew's 2007 representation given the rumored oversampling of Utah County). 

Thanks.  I haven't read it yet (even though I bought it right when it was published) but my understanding was that her conclusions were focused on millenials (the "next mormons").

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1 hour ago, Nevo said:

Callister implies that the idea that ancient people wrote on metal plates was viewed as anachronistic in Joseph Smith's day. It wasn't. He also suggests that the discovery of "numerous metal plates containing ancient writings" during the 20th century has become "a witness of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon." Not so. Quite the opposite, in fact. As Ryan Thomas has recently demonstrated, "comparison of documented practices of metal epigraphy from throughout the ancient Near East/eastern Mediterranean show that the Book of Mormon tradition of writing extensive literary compositions on metal for archival purposes was conspicuously outside the norm, without historical precedent or parallel."

If it was not regarded as anachronistic in Joseph's day, why did Alexander Campbell say:  "The imposter was too ignorant of the history of the Jews and the nature of the covenants of promise, to have even alluded to them in his book, if he had not supposed that he had the plates of Moses in his own keeping, as he had his 'molten plates' of Nephi" (Campbell, "Delusions," Feb 10, 1831).  The idiotic mockery continues into modern times: https://reasonsforjesus.com/joseph-smiths-golden-plate-story-debunked/ , and http://www.mormonthink.com/book-of-mormon-problems.htm#didntexist .  Callister himself correctly said in his FairMormon address "They now insist that the Book of Mormon is the wrong type of document to be written on metal—specifically, they think it is too long."  That is Ryan Thomas' main complaint, and Callister's riposte is correct.  Thomas is quibbling.  The fact that such records were in fact kept by civilizations contemporary with and earlier than Lehi & Nephi is strong evidence of the non-anachronistic practice.  Length is not a substantive issue, though some such early records were very lengthy:  

Creating bronze, silver, or other metal plates for their permanence was standard practice by Hittites, Canaanites (Byblos), Egyptians, Etruscans, Romans, and other ancient peoples.  For example, the treaty of 1259 B.C. between the Hittites and Egyptians was engraved on silver plates for both Raameses II and Hattusili III. Although they no longer exist, copies were found in both Egypt (monumental inscriptions) and at the Hittite capital (clay cuneiform).  The famous fifth century B.C. 12 bronze tablets of early Rome have not survived.  

An ancient Hittite account, called the Deeds of Suppiluliuma, dating to the 14th century BC, was likely written on bronze tablets. Although many sections of the document are poorly preserved, the remaining portions suggest it would have been quite long.  (Hans Güterbock, ed., “The Deeds of Suppiluliuma as Told by His Son, Mursili II,” Journal of Cuneiform Studies 10/2 [1956]: 41–68, 75–98, 107–130 -- the implication that this record was anciently engraved onto bronze comes from the text itself. One of the colophons in fragment 28 reads “Not yet made into a bronze tablet.”)

There are the gold Etruscan Pyrgi Tablets: Philip C. Schmitz, "The Phoenician Text from the Etruscan Sanctuary at Pyrgi,” Journal of the American Oriental Society, 115/4 (Oct - Dec 1995):559-575.

There is the Etruscan Gold Book from 600 B.C. (a six-page 24-carat gold book bound with rings, found in a tomb in Bulgaria ca. 1943), an eight-page cuneiform golden codex found in 2005 in Teheran, Iran (from the Achaemenid period and bound with four rings), and a recent find of gold plates of about the same size as the Book of Mormon plates in a royal tomb in China.[1]

[1] Jenny Stanton, “Gold plates and coins among valuable haul unearthed by archaeologists at 2,000-year-old royal tombs in China ,” Daily Mail Online, Dec 27, 2015, online at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3375474/Gold-plates-coins-valuable-haul-unearthed-archaeologists-2-000-year-old-royal-tombs-China.html , with Xinhua photo: 2FA160FA00000578-3375474-Gold_plates_mea

1 hour ago, Nevo said:

Callister's assertion that "the Book of Mormon revealed a correct usage of the name of Alma"--proving that Joseph was "either inspired once again or a very, very lucky guesser"--is another outdated argument that doesn't hold up to scrutiny, as noted here: http://mormon*****.***/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=49737. The upshot of that thread is that there is no evidence for Alma as a genuine Hebrew name (although it was used as a male name in Joseph Smith's day).

Alma likely is the hypocoristic form of segolate ˁelem > ˁalmâ,[1] i.e., short for hypothetical Hebrew *ˁAlma’ ’El "Lad of ’El," the Ugaritic epithet of King Kirta, ġlm ’Il "Lad of El."   The ending may be hypocoristic, or have a vocative meaning, with the shortening of two-part names beginning “very early.”[2]  Also, Alma is a male proper name at ancient Ebla.  The clincher is word-play on his name in the BofM --  Matt Bowen, “‘And He Was a Young Man’: The Literary Preservation of Alma’s Autobiograhical Wordplay,” FARMS Insights 30/4 (2010).


[1] In his entry in the Book of Mormon Onomasticon (BYU), Paul Hoskisson says that “When an ending is added to a Hebrew segholate noun, such as elem, the original /a/ vowel of the segholate qatl form returns (The pausal form, because of the shift in accent, also reveals the original /a/ vowel, e.g., as in the pausal form in 1 Samuel 17:56); hypocoristic endings commonly represented a theophoric element (the name of a deity in a sharply contracted form), most often by a single final consonant, usually aleph, but also with final he, such as in the second occurrence in the Bar Kokhba letter. For example the hypocoristic name Abda (1 Kings 4:6 passim) shows up in its plene form in 1 Chronicles 9:16 as Obadiah. The same is true of the biblical personal name Shebna (Isaiah 22:15), which is most likely ‘a short form, probably from’ Shebanyah(u) (Koehler & Baumgartner, Hebrew & Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament [Leiden: Brill, 1994-2000]). There is also an Ammonite analog to ALMA, ˁbd' that would mean ‘the servant of [the god]’." Cf. Robert Deutsch and André Lemaire, Biblical Period Personal Seals in the Shlomo Moussaieff Collection (Tel Aviv: Archaeological Center Publications, 2000), nos. 150 and 177.

[2] Noth, IPN, 36, citing Lidzbarksi.

1 hour ago, Nevo said:

I think Callister's barley and cement evidences are also weak, but I'm off to work now so that will have to wait.

Since non-LDS scholars agree that barley was cultivated in pre-Columbian times,* and that cement was in fact used, I don't understand why those are "weak" claims.

Even more importantly, a Sumerian word for "barley (and other grains)" shows up in Mosiah 9:9, sheum, likely a holdover from Jaredite times.  Sumerian  ŠE/ ŠE.UM is also the measure of “one barleycorn” (a fraction of a shekel in weight, volume, or length).  John Huehnergard, A Grammar of Akkadian, 528.

*  “…extensive archaeological evidence also points to the cultivation of little barley in the Southwest and parts of Mexico,” Michael T. Dunne and William Green, “Terminal Archaic and Early Woodland Plant Use at the Gast Spring Site (13LA152), Southeast Iowa,” Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, Spring 1998, p. 8; rye was also collected in the New World -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nUZTRXVrac .

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6 hours ago, rockpond said:

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

Nothing here to make me find Rick Phillips convincing.  I don’t blame “the internet”, but I would characterize a leading problem for the church as “easy access to information”.   The idea that it’s “changing demographics which make it easier to leave” rings hollow because I know a lot of people who have left and not a single one of them did so because it was easy.  (Spoiler: it wasn’t, and still isn’t.). 

In any case, I respect you so I wanted to reply to that quote but don’t want to say too much since it is off topic for the thread.  If Phillips has some data to support his conclusion, perhaps you could open a new thread with it. 

Prof Phillips based his conclusions on actual field-work in an LDS ward (of which he was a trusted member), and careful study of LDS demographics.  He has since left the LDS faith, even though he doesn't seem hostile to it.

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1 hour ago, rockpond said:

Thanks.  I haven't read it yet (even though I bought it right when it was published) but my understanding was that her conclusions were focused on millenials (the "next mormons").

A lot of it is contrasting the generations. Although I honestly also don't like breaking things down by generation in quite that way. Particularly Millennials and Gen-Z where I think there's more variability than in Gen-X (my generation) or Baby Boomers. She also hasn't published her full data set yet so it's hard to see some things.

I am hoping that ARIS does an other survery on religion so we can compare. We're really overdue. My guess is that while there's definitely a shift with Millennials and now Gen-Z socially, conceptually and in terms of activity/membership that some aspects are being exaggerated somewhat. There's also a valid question as to whether current trends of the last 10 years will persist. In other words whether the country is finally following the path that Europe had taken a few decades earlier or if there's something new developing in the US.

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22 minutes ago, randy said:

I have read this thread with great interest, and I confess..with much sadness as well.   I am 62 yrs old...our family was baptized in 1964. My father never darkened the Church door since that day. For the most part, neither did my two older brothers. My mother did her very best, and she strived to be as faithful as she could be.  I also...for the most part was not active in the Church..up until I got married....very young.  From that moment on....my Bride and I did our best as "kids raising kids"...my wife was baptized shortly before her 17th BD.   We strived to be as engaged and faithful as we could be.  We had many struggles as one would expect under those circumstances.  My Father committed suicide when I was 19.  My mother died when I was 24. My brother was killed in an accident at home when I was 31.   All this to say...that I gained my testimony of the truthfulness and divinity of this gospel by and through my lifes experiences and trials, by the power of the Holy Ghost.  ( I know i'm not unique in this).  

But, as I've shared on this forum before, my personal "mountain top" spiritual confirmation from the HG came when my wife and I met with Pres. Kimball, just the three of us....at about 1045pm, standing outside the Missouri Independence Mission home...and we visited for all of about 240 seconds, and my life was totally changed.  I received my personal witness that there was a Prophet on the earth...and he stood there in front of me, and then spoke to me.  He said to me...as he lovingly yet firmly admonished and challenged me...as he pointed his finger at me, he said "You always cherish her".  I said "I will President".   That was it.  I received my "I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it" confirmation.

All this to say...I'm simple minded.  I received a witness that this gospel is true.  So the question is...Am I stupid for believing in my witness of the spirit given to me in that experience I shared above?  Should I doubt that revelatory experience based upon the "doubts" being shared here?  My answer to that is a resounding "NO"!  Again....I tend to be very simple in how I approach these types of things.  I will not as the scriptures say "cast not away my confidence".  If it was true in 1976, it's still true in 2019.

Sounds like a lot of challenges in your family life but I love your experience and the testimony you've shared.

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1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

If [the idea that ancient people wrote on metal plates] was not regarded as anachronistic in Joseph's day, why did Alexander Campbell say:  "The imposter was too ignorant of the history of the Jews and the nature of the covenants of promise, to have even alluded to them in his book, if he had not supposed that he had the plates of Moses in his own keeping, as he had his 'molten plates' of Nephi" (Campbell, "Delusions," Feb 10, 1831).  The idiotic mockery continues into modern times: https://reasonsforjesus.com/joseph-smiths-golden-plate-story-debunked/ , and http://www.mormonthink.com/book-of-mormon-problems.htm#didntexist .  Callister himself correctly said in his FairMormon address "They now insist that the Book of Mormon is the wrong type of document to be written on metal—specifically, they think it is too long."  That is Ryan Thomas' main complaint, and Callister's riposte is correct.  Thomas is quibbling.  The fact that such records were in fact kept by civilizations contemporary with and earlier than Lehi & Nephi is strong evidence of the non-anachronistic practice.  Length is not a substantive issue, though some such early records were very lengthy.

The sentence quoted from Alexander Campbell does not imply that Campbell thought writing on metal plates was anachronistic. It is merely scornful about the claim that Smith had plates. Neither of the two linked articles describes writing on plates as anachronistic, either. Instead they discuss other anachronisms within the Book of Mormon as evidence against the golden plates having been real.

I would be surprised if critics ever found the mere concept of ancient inscriptions on metal to be anachronistic. The Twelve Tables of Roman law, written on copper tablets, were a famous element of Roman history. Ancient coins have always been well known to bear inscriptions; Jesus remarks in the gospels on Caesar's inscription on a Roman coin. 

What skeptics may have noted, then as now, is that there is no archaeological or historical precedent for metal inscriptions anywhere remotely near as long as the Book of Mormon. Not even the "very lengthy" early records are nearly as long as it is. If we were only talking about the Book of Mormon taking twelve thin plates instead of eight then the length issue would indeed be quibbling but the Book of Mormon would have needed either many times more plates than have ever been found with ancient writing, or ancient writing many times more highly compressed than any ancient writing that has ever been found. Pointing this out is not quibbling.

Regarding barley: pre-Columbian cultivation of a grass related to barley has been confirmed in North America but not in Central America and not in early Nephite times. This does make it less of a wild speculation to suggest that maybe barley cultivation did extend farther south and earlier and just hasn't shown up in the archaeology yet. It does not mean that the charge of anachronism on the count of barley has been rebutted. There might be hope if further evidence appears but as it stands barley in the Book of Mormon still looks anachronistic.

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2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

If it was not regarded as anachronistic in Joseph's day, why did Alexander Campbell say:  "The imposter was too ignorant of the history of the Jews and the nature of the covenants of promise, to have even alluded to them in his book, if he had not supposed that he had the plates of Moses in his own keeping, as he had his 'molten plates' of Nephi" (Campbell, "Delusions," Feb 10, 1831). 

There's a bit of bait and switch that goes on in these discussions. I think it's demonstrable that folk traditions accepted writing on metal and clearly it's trivial to find scholars discussing writing on metal from the era. However the middle ground of non-scholars who think themselves superior to the "folk" sometimes ridiculed the idea assuming Jews only wrote on papyri. This persisted in anti-Mormon material well into the 20th century. That's why Nibley says what he says in his early writings. I suspect Nibley is responding to people from that first generation of Mormon university goers who tended to come back disbelieving a lot of religious claims due to what was being taught in college. (Typically adopting a liberal Protestant conception of theology and scripture) Until Nibley came on the scene I think many in Utah weren't quite sure how to react to it all.  Although as I noted Nibley was more focused on buried metal plates. Certainly anyone educated should have known of famous examples of writing on metal. (See below)

All that said though, Callister clearly exaggerates the state of knowledge at the time of Joseph Smith. Scholars of the time were very aware of ancient writing on metal. So for example the 1808 book An Inquiry Into the Origin and Early History of Engraving Upon Metal. That's focusing more on metal with text engraved on it but not necessarily longer texts. And the focus of the book is engraving in order to press upon paper. However it does include illustrations of various metal plates that were engraved. However An Historic Account of Inventions and Discoveries in Those Arts and Sciences Which Are of Utility or Ornament to Man (1820) discusses such writings on metal.

"Pausanias relates that Hesiod's Opera et Dies was written upon this substance. Pliny assures us that lead was used for writing, rolled up like a cylinder. Hertius wrote to Decius Brutus on leaden tables."

"Montfucon takes notice of a very ancient book of eight leaden leaves, the first and last serving for a cover, containing numerous mysterious figures of the Basilidians, and words partly Greek and partly Etrucan characters; on the back were rings, fastened to a small leaden rod, which held these together."

"Most public acts of princes and great men, except, indeed, previously mentioned Tabula Alimentaria of Trajan, at Veleia were written upon bronze, but this seems to have been done on copper, if our previous information be correct.

In Isaiah 30:8 and Habakkuk 2:2 mention is made of writing on a table, that it may be remembered in time to come, forever and forever. This may be only figuratively given, as the accompanying expression appears to be strong and hyperbolically conveyed."

"The civil, criminal and ceremonial laws of the Greeks, were engraven on bronze tables, as was the speech of Claudius on plates of the same metal, and are still preserved in the Town Hall of Lyons."

"The pacts between the Romans, Spartand, and Jews were written on brass, which method was also observed by the Guilds, as well as in compacts between private persons..." 

Edited by clarkgoble
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1 hour ago, Physics Guy said:

I would be surprised if critics ever found the mere concept of ancient inscriptions on metal to be anachronistic.

The ones I found usually were more targeted to the ancient Jews. So Suderland's Mormonism (1838) has "This book speaks (p. 9,15,29,) of the Jewish Scriptures, having been kept by Jews on plates of brass, six hundred years before Christ. The Jews never kept any of their records on plates of brass."

As I mentioned Burton definitely was familiar with the claim and attempted (very poorly) to refute it in his 1861 book on the Mormons.

The best example is John Hyde's Mormonism: Its Leaders and Designs (1857) "...the writing materials then in use, and it was only very few who could use them, would be those such a youth would be familiar with. Now the Jews did not use plates of brass at that time. Their writing materials were 1. Tablets smeared with wax. 2. Linen rubbed with a kind of gum. 3. Tanned leather and vellum. 4. Parchment (invented by Attalus of Pergamos). 5. Papyrus." 

There's other works from the end of the 19th and early 20th century that tend to repeat that notion even though it was demonstrably false even then.

But I do agree that Nibley was exaggerating things (at least from what I've seen) and people since Nibley have just repeated the claim uncritically and without reference. (I did a curious look and couldn't find apologists refuting the claim actually establishing the claim with a reference or quotation – which ought be a no-no for apologists) Further as I noted (and there are tons of other examples) there's lots of books around the time of Joseph saying that the Jews wrote on brass. However it's not clear these scholarly views were widely known.

Edited by clarkgoble
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On 8/21/2019 at 3:40 PM, clarkgoble said:

There's a bit of bait and switch that goes on in these discussions.............

O.K., but that does not negate Callister's main point on plates, which is that the idea was being  mocked by anti-Mormons.

Quote

All that said though, Callister clearly exaggerates the state of knowledge at the time of Joseph Smith. Scholars of the time were very aware of ancient writing on metal. So for example the 1808 book An Inquiry Into the Origin and Early History of Engraving Upon Metal. That's focusing more on metal with text engraved on it but not necessarily longer texts. And the focus of the book is engraving in order to press upon paper. However it does include illustrations of various metal plates that were engraved. However An Historic Account of Inventions and Discoveries in Those Arts and Sciences Which Are of Utility or Ornament to Man (1820) discusses such writings on metal.................................

Excellent points, of course, Clark, and I thank you for providing such good references.

On 8/21/2019 at 4:21 PM, clarkgoble said:

The ones I found usually were more targeted to the ancient Jews. So Suderland's Mormonism (1838) has "This book speaks (p. 9,15,29,) of the Jewish Scriptures, having been kept by Jews on plates of brass, six hundred years before Christ. The Jews never kept any of their records on plates of brass."

As I mentioned Burton definitely was familiar with the claim and attempted (very poorly) to refute it in his 1861 book on the Mormons.

The best example is John Hyde's Mormonism: Its Leaders and Designs (1857) "...the writing materials then in use, and it was only very few who could use them, would be those such a youth would be familiar with. Now the Jews did not use plates of brass at that time. Their writing materials were 1. Tablets smeared with wax. 2. Linen rubbed with a kind of gum. 3. Tanned leather and vellum. 4. Parchment (invented by Attalus of Pergamos). 5. Papyrus." 

There's other works from the end of the 19th and early 20th century that tend to repeat that notion even though it was demonstrably false even then.

But I do agree that Nibley was exaggerating things (at least from what I've seen) and people since Nibley have just repeated the claim uncritically and without reference. (I did a curious look and couldn't find apologists refuting the claim actually establishing the claim with a reference or quotation – which ought be a no-no for apologists) Further as I noted (and there are tons of other examples) there's lots of books around the time of Joseph saying that the Jews wrote on brass. However it's not clear these scholarly views were widely known.

Thank you for those references.  However, Sunderland and Hyde make Callister's (and my) point very well.  Anti-Mormons did in fact ignore or were ignorant of more scholarly sources -- which you also thankfully cite.  This anti-Mormon pattern continues into the present, i.e., no matter what non-LDS scholarship says, the anti-Mormon always quibbles, demanding perfect evidence (which never exists in any field).  This is anti-intellectualism at its grandest:  Always deny, no matter what.  Never give an inch, or those damnable Mormons will take a mile.  The antis always move the goal posts.  One hankers for honesty in public discourse.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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12 hours ago, Nevo said:

Callister implies that the idea that ancient people wrote on metal plates was viewed as anachronistic in Joseph Smith's day. It wasn't.

From 1809, there was an extremely popular account of Jewish exiles from the Babylonian captivity carrying their records inscribed on Brass Plates overseas in the 6th century BC. It was called the Star in the East and it was widely published and discussed.

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6 hours ago, Physics Guy said:

Regarding barley: pre-Columbian cultivation of a grass related to barley has been confirmed in North America but not in Central America and not in early Nephite times. This does make it less of a wild speculation to suggest that maybe barley cultivation did extend farther south and earlier and just hasn't shown up in the archaeology yet. It does not mean that the charge of anachronism on the count of barley has been rebutted. There might be hope if further evidence appears but as it stands barley in the Book of Mormon still looks anachronistic.

Actually the article referenced says it's in Mexico as well. While we don't know where the Book of Mormon took place, Mexico and Guatemala are generally seen by most apologists as the location. You're right about the date though. The evidence only goes back to 200 BC - although that's the era of Mosiah when barley is referenced. I'll also concede that the article does focus primarily on the Woodland region and period of the midwest. The time there is to 3000 BP and thus well within Nephite times. While you're right it's not evidence for early Nephite use, given the trade routes and how widespread the domestication was (at least according to the article) it's pretty expected it would reach Nephite lands, wherever that is.

Since apologists worked on that there's apparently been more studies finding independent domestication of barley in the southwest.  "Little Barley, an annual grass, identified as domesticated on the basis of morphological changes, has been previously recovered at numerous sites throughout central and southern Arizona spanning from 2410 ± 40 BP to AD 1450 (Adams 2014:159). Use of barley grains approximately 1,500 years earlier has also been reported from McEuen cave in southeastern Arizona." Once you're talking Arizona and New Mexico you're talking an area pretty close to purported Book of Mormon lands. (Yes still hundreds of miles, but in an area with well known trade routes - maize, beans and squash were traded from mesoamerica to those areas)

Typically an anachronism is something that couldn't be at the specified place/time. While there's no positive evidence for barley in Guatemala/southern Mexico circa 200 BC its extremely plausible that it could be there. Thus it's not really an anachronism. This is quite unlike say horses or metals.

I can see people disbelieving in Book of Mormon barley and demanding more evidence. Saying it's anachronistic just seems a much harder sell.

39 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

From 1809, there was an extremely popular account of Jewish exiles from the Babylonian captivity carrying their records inscribed on Brass Plates overseas in the 6th century BC. It was called the Star in the East and it was widely published and discussed.

Aren't the brass plates from Buchanan's sermon much later though? Just glancing at The Star in the East(I've not read the whole thing obviously) There certainly are some interesting bits though.

"When the white Jews of Cochin were questioned respecting the ancient copies of their Scriptures they answered, that it had been usual to bury the old copy read in the synagogue, when decayed by time and use. This does not however appear to have been the practice of the Black Jews, who were the first settlers; for in the record chests of their synagogues old copies of the law have been discovered... There is one manuscript written in a character resembling the Palmyren Hebrew on the brass plates: but it is in a decayed state and the leaves adhere so closely to each other, that it is doubtful whether it will be possible so unfold them and reserve the reading."

The claim is that the writings on the brass plates are old, but not earlier than the rabbinical era. He later dates some brass plates brought in 490 AD. However the original colony is possibly from the Babylonian era. "That these [Jews from Rajapoor in India] are a remnant of the Jews of the first dispersion at the Babylonian captivity seems highly probable."

He also makes a claim for them being from the northern Kingdom. "...certain of these tribes do not call themselves Jews but Beni-Israel or Israelites; for the name Jew is derived from Judah; whereas ancestors of these tribes were not subject to the kings of Judah, but to the kings of Israel. They have, in most places, the book of the Law, the book of Job and the Palms; but know little of the prophets."

So this is definitely evidence for knowledge of extended texts on metal and a neat find I wasn't aware of. However that doesn't mean the anti-Mormons were aware of it.

I wonder if any of these brass plates are still extant. I know there was a few people from Israel still accessing some of these communities in Israel and China convinced they were the lost tribes. So far as I know there aren't positive artifacts examined and dated by scientists. 

Edited by clarkgoble
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5 hours ago, Physics Guy said:

The sentence quoted from Alexander Campbell does not imply that Campbell thought writing on metal plates was anachronistic. It is merely scornful about the claim that Smith had plates. Neither of the two linked articles describes writing on plates as anachronistic, either. Instead they discuss other anachronisms within the Book of Mormon as evidence against the golden plates having been real.

I would be surprised if critics ever found the mere concept of ancient inscriptions on metal to be anachronistic. The Twelve Tables of Roman law, written on copper tablets, were a famous element of Roman history. Ancient coins have always been well known to bear inscriptions; Jesus remarks in the gospels on Caesar's inscription on a Roman coin. 

The writing on coins is quite beside the point, and Clark cites anti-Mormon sources which explicitly claim metal plates to be anachronistic -- going against the best scholarship of that age, probably just unaware of the other sources Clark cites.

5 hours ago, Physics Guy said:

What skeptics may have noted, then as now, is that there is no archaeological or historical precedent for metal inscriptions anywhere remotely near as long as the Book of Mormon. Not even the "very lengthy" early records are nearly as long as it is. If we were only talking about the Book of Mormon taking twelve thin plates instead of eight then the length issue would indeed be quibbling but the Book of Mormon would have needed either many times more plates than have ever been found with ancient writing, or ancient writing many times more highly compressed than any ancient writing that has ever been found. Pointing this out is not quibbling.

Once it has been established that metal codices were in fact produced contemporary with Lehi & Nephi, the call to perfection becomes just a fallacious quibble.  Thomas' built his entire case on that fallacy.  See my Quora answer, Feb 21, 2019, online at https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-oldest-archaeological-evidence-of-scripture-in-the-form-of-a-bound-book-as-we-recognise-it-today-as-opposed-to-a-scroll/answer/Bob-Smith-3106 .

Ignoring the recent lengthy Chinese example (pictured by the official Chinese News Agency Xinhua) is not particularly auspicious for a meaningful discussion.  At the same time, as I pointed out long ago, we are not talking about a 500-page codex in short-hand (cursive) Egyptian.  The number of sheets required is not large:  “The ‘Golden’ Plates,” FARMS Update, October 1984, reprinted in John W. Welch, ed., Reexploring the Book of Mormon: The F.A.R.M.S. Updates (Provo: FARMS/SLC: Deseret Book, 1992), 275-278.  Online at https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/mi/66/

5 hours ago, Physics Guy said:

Regarding barley: pre-Columbian cultivation of a grass related to barley has been confirmed in North America but not in Central America and not in early Nephite times. This does make it less of a wild speculation to suggest that maybe barley cultivation did extend farther south and earlier and just hasn't shown up in the archaeology yet. It does not mean that the charge of anachronism on the count of barley has been rebutted. There might be hope if further evidence appears but as it stands barley in the Book of Mormon still looks anachronistic.

The false claim has always been that barley did not exist in the New World at all in pre-Columbian times (especially not cultivated barley), and this same false claim has been made about other flora, fauna, and cultural products.  Whenever, the opposite is shown, we hear an automatic "but" directed to a new goal post.  Not just the New World anymore, but specifically wherever and whenever the Jaredites, Mulekites, or Nephites & Lamanites were supposed to be located.  New archeological discoveries are thus automatically discounted.

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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

Since apologists worked on that there's apparently been more studies finding independent domestication of barley in the southwest.  "Little Barley, an annual grass, identified as domesticated on the basis of morphological changes, has been previously recovered at numerous sites throughout central and southern Arizona spanning from 2410 ± 40 BP to AD 1450 (Adams 2014:159)."

It would be nice if paleoethnobotanists could come to some kind of consensus on this. Another source claims that "there is disagreement about whether or not little barley was domesticated. Evidence for true domestication should include morphological change in the caryopsis. While this change often includes an increase in seed size, this is not always the case. Hunter (1992) demonstrates a minor increase in seed size, but acknowledges that it is not as significant an increase as is needed to confirm domestication...."

In any case, I have no confidence that the Book of Mormon is referring to little barley grass when it mentions "barley."

Edited by Nevo

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10 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Alma likely is the hypocoristic form of segolate ˁelem > ˁalmâ,[1] i.e., short for hypothetical Hebrew *ˁAlma’ ’El "Lad of ’El," the Ugaritic epithet of King Kirta, ġlm ’Il "Lad of El."   The ending may be hypocoristic, or have a vocative meaning, with the shortening of two-part names beginning “very early.”[2]  Also, Alma is a male proper name at ancient Ebla.  The clincher is word-play on his name in the BofM --  Matt Bowen, “‘And He Was a Young Man’: The Literary Preservation of Alma’s Autobiograhical Wordplay,” FARMS Insights 30/4 (2010).

So, in other words, you agree that Alma isn't attested as a Hebrew name, as Callister claims.

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22 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Wherein did Callister mislead or use false arguments?

Here's another: "The Bible prophesies of [the Book of Mormon's] coming forth and its purpose. . . . There are actually a number of Bible prophecies that refer to the Book of Mormon, its people and their promised land."

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1 hour ago, Nevo said:

Here's another: "The Bible prophesies of [the Book of Mormon's] coming forth and its purpose. . . . There are actually a number of Bible prophecies that refer to the Book of Mormon, its people and their promised land."

So, if Callister wants to do a virtual pesher or midrash on Ezek 37, he just has to be off base -- same as the Essenes at Qumran.  There is no room for such interpretation.  Yet Jesus did exactly that on the road to Emmaus.  Secular scholars simply do not accept His claim that the prophets spoke about Him.  Yet Jewish scholars now state unequivocally that the Essenes interpreted the Servant Songs of Isaiah in the same messianic fashion as the Christians soon would.  How can that be if Callister is so wrong?

Quote

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph – which is in Ephraim’s hand – and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick. I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand." (NIV Ezekiel 37:19)

 

Edited by Robert F. Smith

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1 hour ago, Nevo said:

So, in other words, you agree that Alma isn't attested as a Hebrew name, as Callister claims.

The Hebrew or Aramaic masculine name Alma certainly appears in use by Bar Kochba, but (unlike Callister and my colleagues) I am not interested in such late evidence.  The pausal Hebrew form is not a problem.  Our lack of a vast Classical Hebrew literature is the problem.  Unlike neighboring nations of Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and Egypt, which have large libraries of literature (a vocabulary of about 15,000 words each), the Israelites have only enough literature to provide half their actual vocabulary (7,500 words).  So, we must use Hebrew grammar to extrapolate from the roots we have to all legitimate forms.

Hebrew is merely a Canaanite dialect.  Since the name does exist in Northwest Semitic Canaanite (Ugaritic) and at Ebla, it seems reasonable to accept the hypothetical Hebrew form Alma -- especially since it appears to be involved in word-play.  Notice how a single line of approach to the problem is not used.

Again, as I have repeatedly pointed out, Callister is a tax attorney, not a Hebraist.  It is uncharitable to demand that he perform dog tricks like a Hebraist.

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6 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The Hebrew or Aramaic masculine name Alma certainly appears in use by Bar Kochba

But it doesn't. Aramaic Allima is not the same as Hebrew Alma (which is not attested as a masculine name). I don't "demand" that Callister do "dog tricks" with etymologies. I only ask that he not make bogus claims. Even tax attorneys are capable of that much.

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9 hours ago, Nevo said:

In any case, I have no confidence that the Book of Mormon is referring to little barley grass when it mentions "barley."

I don't have a strong opinion which I suppose is the same as no confidence. To me it could easily be semantic drift by the Nephites as they encounter new plants.

Whether this is about domestication though, it's certainly the case that little barley was being used in a location close to the Book of Mormon so it's not an anachronism. Whether it's actually the case that Nephite barley is little barley seems a different question. It's plausible but who knows.

7 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Again, as I have repeatedly pointed out, Callister is a tax attorney, not a Hebraist.  It is uncharitable to demand that he perform dog tricks like a Hebraist.

No, but since he's mainly presenting existing arguments in a popularized treatment, he should be aware of the arguments pro and con and present them in a fair fashion based upon the latest forms of the arguments. It seems like that's where Callister fell down a bit despite his intentions.

I think the stronger argument is the one you just made - that we basically lack much pre-hellenistic Hebrew literature. Such arguments are really just arguments from silence which has no statistical significance given the paucity of data.

11 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

 

The false claim has always been that barley did not exist in the New World at all in pre-Columbian times (especially not cultivated barley), and this same false claim has been made about other flora, fauna, and cultural products.  Whenever, the opposite is shown, we hear an automatic "but" directed to a new goal post.  Not just the New World anymore, but specifically wherever and whenever the Jaredites, Mulekites, or Nephites & Lamanites were supposed to be located.  New archeological discoveries are thus automatically discounted.

To be fair, the fact the criticism wasn't made as carefully as it could doesn't mean the revised criticism is without merit. It's not really poor arguing to revise ones arguments as the evidence changes.

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35 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

I don't have a strong opinion which I suppose is the same as no confidence. To me it could easily be semantic drift by the Nephites as they encounter new plants.

Whether this is about domestication though, it's certainly the case that little barley was being used in a location close to the Book of Mormon so it's not an anachronism. Whether it's actually the case that Nephite barley is little barley seems a different question. It's plausible but who knows..................

Your suggestion earlier that a lot of trade was going on throughout the Americas should be emphasized.  Non-LDS scholars (the only ones who can apparently be trusted) point this out all the time, though partisans tend to ignore them.  Richard Forbis, for example, states:

Quote

. . . certain generalized and particular artifact types and features speak strongly for contacts with Mesoamerica, among them being mound-building, lapidary industries, earspools, female figurines, and petal-shaped celts (ungrooved axes).  All are earlier in Mesoamerica than in Adena [1st cents BC & AD], and they persisted there long enough to provide a contemporaneous source of inspiration.  Appealing to independent invention to account for these traits in Adena is hardly economical.
         Contacts between the two areas were probably indirect, by sea across the Caribbean and up the rivers draining into the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Ocean.  Early sites indicative of these contacts do indeed exist.  Forbis in Gorenstein, ed., North America, 81.

Serious discussion is possible, as long as it is sincere, and as long as we consider works by actual scholars, such as anthropologist Brant Gardner.

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