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Kevin Christensen

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  1. Regarding the air quotes around "interpretation" there is this rather inescapable issue with human experience, nicely observed by Ian Barbour: Ian Barbour, Myths, Models, and Paradigms: A Comparative Study of Science and Religion, Chapter 6: Paradigms in Science (New York: Harper & Row, 1976), 95, https://www.religion-online.org/book/myths-models-and-paradigms-a-comparative-study-in-science-and-religion/. Everyone interprets, inescapably, and everyone's interpretation is influenced to one degree or another by their background assumptions. Ideology is not something that happens only to other people, but is the reason that Jesus says judgement should begin with self-judgement, checking one's own eye for beams so we can critically consider the implications of our own ideology. Alma 32, I notice, makes a clear and important distinction between coercive irresistable "proof" and inviting "cause to believe." So the main issue ought not be whether interpretation is involved, but whose interpretation is best, and how do we go about measuring best. I occasionally quote Godel, Escher and Bach on how "The important thing to remember is that proofs are demonstrations within fixed systems of propositions" and that "Godel showed that provability is a weaker notion than proof no matter what axiomatic system is involved." (pages 18 and 19.) So observing that that Welch says of his chapter four "is an interpretive essay. It is more of an exploration than a proof," is his own recognition that what he does involves interpretation, is "theory-laden," and will not be coercive to everyone. But "more exploration than a proof" does not mean that the exploration produced nothing substantial, nothing that counts as various kinds of evidence, and the weight of the argument of the book is in what that exploration turns up, in Thomas Kuhn's terms, puzzle definition and testability, accuracy of key predictions, comprehensiveness and coherence, simplicity and aesthetics, fruitfulness, and future promise. Labeling what Welch did as "interpretation" is not at all the same thing as comprehensively and carefully accounting for what he turned up. And he continues to explore and find more good material. See additional insights that Welch offers here: http://www.templestudies.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/MormonismAndTheTemple.pdf Bradley spoke about his approach and findings here: On Temple Worship in the Lost 116 pages. https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/conference/august-2012/piercing-the-veil-temple-worship-in-the-lost-116-pages And more recently, on Joseph Smith's First Vision as an Endowment. https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/conference/august-2019/first-vision-as-endowment-and-epitome-of-the-gospel As to "Note that both replies, so far, have failed to point out the actual evidence the writers (Bradley or Welsh) propose as definitively for a "temple ceremony" within the Nephite context", besides the material in various sources that I linked, I did mention that "Welch shows that 3 Nephi 8-29 offers a very complete and detailed temple ceremony in a temple setting, using temple language, levels of sacredness, priesthood authority to baptize followed by priesthood authority to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, the same covenants, and prayer circles and theophany." That, I think, includes some specific Book of Mormon texts, in an rather obvious temple setting, and is evidence that, even a person is committed to the notion that Nauvoo temple theology is a departure from Palmyra Mormonism and derives from Masonic influence, and that LDS temple worship is nothing like Ancient Jewish and Christian temple worship, and that there is nothing about the temple in the Book of Mormon, ought to at least acknowledge and explain. Labeling and dismissing is not evidence of close reading but of rhetorical shortcuts. FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  2. Have you actually read Don Bradley's work? How about Welch's Illuminating the Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount. Welch shows that 3 Nephi 8-29 offers a very complete and detailed temple ceremony in a temple setting, using temple language, levels of sacredness, priesthood authority to baptize followed by priesthood authority to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, the same covenants, and prayer circles and theophany. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/mi/42/ Or Welch's “The Temple in the Book of Mormon: The Temples at the Cities of Nephi, Zarahemla, and Bountiful,” in Temples in the Ancient World. Or watched this from Book of Mormon Central? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHieRKUC6kU How about D. John Butler's books on Plain and Precious Things and The Goodness and Mysteries? Or read my essay in Glimpses of Lehi's Jerusalem on Temple themes in the Book of Mormon, or noticed how many important discourses are given at the temple and/or on temple themes? file:///C:/Users/Sam's%20Club/Downloads/CH%2016%20The%20temple%20the%20monarchy%20and%20wisdom.pdf FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  3. Don Bradley did notice temple themes in the Book of Lehi, as well as in Joseph Smith's first vision. His chapter 11 in The Lost 116 pages is "Nephi's Temple." But even more to the point regarding the Book of Mormon are things like John W. Welch's lIluminating the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon at the Temple, as his essay on "“The Temple in the Book of Mormon: The Temples at the Cities of Nephi, Zarahemla, and Bountiful,” in Temples in the Ancient World. And a lot more. Gordon Thomasson recalls being an assistant to Hugh Nibley and coming to work and having Nibley turn and say, "Kick me." Thomasson refused, but Nibley explained they he should consider all the research that had been doing regarding ancient Near Eastern temples, and then read Alma 12-13 in that light. If you stop and think, most of the important discourses in the Book of Mormon are given by temple priests either at the temple, or concerning temple themes. So that particular charge by Eliason, against a substantial chunk of notable LDS scholarship struck me as almost willfully blind. In many ways, he made a response necessary. Thanks for the comments. FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  4. For the history of this line of interpretation, and its significance for both the Bible and the LDS scriptures, see this important review of two books by Jewish scholars: http://byustudies.byu.edu/article/the-curse-of-ham-race-and-slavery-in-early-judaism-christianity-and-islam-noahs-curse-the-biblical-justification-of-american-slavery/ FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg PA
  5. A long title, lots of Kuhn and Barker, dealing with some critics including the 2021 BYU Studies essay, and 205 endnotes. https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/twenty-years-after-paradigms-regained-part-2-responding-to-margaret-barkers-critics-and-why-her-work-should-matter-to-latter-day-saints/ FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  6. It is easy to forget that criticism and discernment are synonyms and that discernment is listed as a spiritual gift. The strength of Nibley's apologetics came from his powers of discernment, and he occasionally applied that discernment to BYU culture and LDS culture and US culture. A few good examples would include his "How to Have a Quiet Campus, Antique Style", his "What is Zion a Distant View" essay, his "Criticizing the Brethren" essay, and the terrifyingly relevant "Victoriosa Loquacitas: The Rise of Rhetoric and the Decline of Everything Else." And of course, "Leaders to Managers: The Fatal Shift." In the Faith of an Observer video you get both Truman Madsen and Neal Maxwell talking about what an effective critic Nibley was and that one of the things that helped that was that his lifetime commitment was so visible. If you watch in the background, you can see some high LDS authorities recognizing that some of what he says is directed at them. For England, his "Shakespeare and the At-one-ment of Christ" must be called a notable achievement in literary criticism. And England's "Why the Church is as True as the Gospel" is about what we ought to be most critical of, and what we should expect of one another. Certainly not perfection and sameness. Criticism precedes repentance, which of course, why Jesus asks us to start by being self-critical. It also helps to think about the study that demonstrated that in a marriage, the ratio of appreciation to negative criticisms should be at least five to one. One one of the most notable predictors of the failure of a relationship is the presence of scorn and contempt directed at one's partner. I've remembered another occasion here, several years ago, when I commented on Spencer W. Kimball's The Miracle of Forgiveness. I got very specific in what I disagreed with, but I could do so because I never lost sight of my appreciation of Kimball's life of service, apostolic and prophetic calling, amazing achievements, and that the issues I was criticizing came from the larger cultural attitudes rather than as foundational or revelatory. I wasn't engaged in self-aggrandizement or self justification. Just a narrowly focused bit of discernment, with an eye to highlighting helpful alternatives that could lead to healing, and being very conscious of my own limitations and weakness. FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  7. At this stage of my life, I can look back and see a few important general principles, and some important bits of intellectual background for dealing with humanity, and some notable paradigmatic examples. In principle, I make it a point to give things time, my eyes open, and re-examine my own assumptions periodically. The alternative is to insist on final answers now, to never make the effort and take the time to learn new things, assuming without question that I don't need any further information to decide on everything right now, and to never question my own assumptions, never check my own eye for beams. Either approach has consequences. Expectations are important, so, whenever I run across something I did not expect, I consider, "What should I expect?" Of prophets, I find it notable what D&C 1 says as a formal authoritative declaration of what I should expect of the Lord's authorized servants: Whereas the cultural common place phrase refers to the "only true church" and implies complete, perfect, and exclusive with reference to truth and revelation, D&C 1 as a whole expressly insists that what we have is incomplete, imperfect and non-exclusive with reference to truth, virtue and revelation. The key phrase, D&C 1:30 has 30 words, not just three. And I have spent much effort in trying to sort out exactly what it says. Part of that inquiry led to the observation that the Biblical instances of "true" and "living" imagery and language have to do with voice of warning (Jer. 10:10), with priesthood (true vine and branches and living stones", ordinances and covenants (living bread, living waters), and the temple, "tree of life, living way through the veil", and so forth. And I notice that the reference for "only" is not the Church, but of well-pleasingness relative to what "true and "living" denotes for the gathering. I looked up "sustain" in a good dictionary, and find that it is a super word for defining the attitudes essential for a living community to succeed, ,when that community consists of a wide range of people with different cultures, biographies, levels of development, temperaments, and experiences. "Allow, endure, suffer, support, nourish, obey." I've studied both the 16 Myers Briggs types, and the Perry Scheme for Cognitive and Ethical Growth, and have travel to several countries and learned from travel, and books, and media that the word is far larger and more diverse than the Wasatch Front in the 50s and early 60s. Such things remind me that we are not all the same, nor in the same place, nor do we think and decide the same way, or process information in the same way. I've seen the behavior and faith of important critics, such as Hugh Nibley and Eugene England, and seen much notable difference in John Dehlin and Bill Reel who started idealistically, and moved in a very different direction than Nibley and England. Nibley and England kept Christ and testimony of the authenticity of the restoration in the center. I see the justly famous observation by Joseph Smith in what eventually comes when a person decides that the Church and its leaders are wrong, and the critic is in the right. They are on the road to apostacy. I've also met Maxine Hanks a view times, and find her journey out, and back to the LDS faith inspiring. The difference is actually the same as that depicted in It's a Wonderful Life! When George Bailey is focused on his very real personal frustrations, his legitimate grievances, his painful sacrifices, his life becomes a living hell, and he creates unbearable tensions in his personal relationships, hurting those he loves the most, and intensifying his own shame and personal conflicts. What gets him to say, "Isn't it wonderful! I'm going to jail!" is not any sense that he will be saved (that is an unexpected bonus that comes later), or that his frustrations and need to sacrifice and endure will suddenly vanish, but rather a sense that his sacrifices and frustrations have meaning larger than himself. In Cosmos and History, Eliade points out that what bothers people most is not suffering, but meaningless suffering. On this board, I have on several occasions in the past, responded directly to quotations of an editorial by Joseph Fielding Smith regarding the theory that the Book of Mormon Hill Cumorah is not the same as the New York Hill. In responding, I did not in anyway question his apostleship or inspiration, nor of God's wisdom in calling him to a life of valuable service, nor question the Book of Mormon, or the foundations of the LDS faith. But rather, that on that topic, in that essay, I observed that he simply deferred to tradition without examining the roots of that tradition, nor did he address the specific arguments from the Book of Mormon text raised by those who proposed an alternative. D&C 1 seems apt. During the 1960s and early 1970s, as teenager finding my own way, when I explored the Priesthood ban, I did not get any satisfactory answers, but I did have a testimony. At one point, in response to prayer and pondering, I got a simple answer as a silent still small impression. Don't worry about it for now. I have vivid memories of where I was a few years later in 1978 in Salt Lake City in the Avenues apartment of my soon to be wife, when we read the report of the change. You could feel the electric joy and wonder all through the city. Not bewilderment, not concern, or questioning or doubt, but sheer unabated joy. I recall reading an account in Sunstone of a group of people in Manti who reported having some wonderful spiritual experiences in private prayer circles. They felt upset and offended when local and stake leaders discouraged the practice. And it seem shocking and upsetting to read of their excommunication. That is, until I read the later account that their leader claimed that God would punish Gordon B. Hinkley for his support of the changes of the 1978 revelation on the Priesthood by reincarnating him as a black man. That is quite clearly several steps beyond a conflict of principle reports of intense spiritual experiences, and seems not in the same spirit as I feel when I attend the temple. Again, Joseph Smith's comment about those who rise up to claim that the church is out of the way and they are right, seems notably apt. A few years ago, many people reported being terribly offended by an announcement that children gay parents would not be baptized till they came of age. One of my friends, whose wife had left him to spend over a decade in a series of lesbian relationships, and who therefore, was in a direct and person position to consider the implications, and had talks with his two daughters, actually saw in the over-reaction, a personal rekindling of his commitment to return to activity. He's been teaching ever since. A few years ago, I thought the new set of temple films were that were good in the way they presented Eve's conscious sacrifice. Last times I went, the film have become slides... not as effective, but with a few ceremonial differences that most appreciate. How much of a fuss should I make? Well, it's not my job. Back when I compiled passages described Discerning True and False Prophets, I was included this one: Romans 14:4. Who are thou to judge another man’s servant? To his own master he standeth or faileth. Yea,…God is able to make him stand. FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  8. Regarding Abinadi and "burning heretics at the stake," Mark Wright and Terry Hull offered this a while back, noting much more than the notable fact that the death of Abinadi does not use the word "stake." https://www.ldsliving.com/why-abinadi-might-not-have-died-the-way-we-think-he-did-what-it-teaches-us-about-his-faith/s/88648 They also describe forms of torture known in North America, among the Aztecs, and the Ancient Maya. The word "stake" does occur twice in the Book of Mormon, but with a rather different context and meaning, metaphorically tent stakes. 3 Nephi 22 quotes Isaiah 54. Moroni 10 has this: In the other notable depiction of death by fire, besides those of Abinadi and Noah, the account in Alma 14, we also have no mention of stakes, The important thing about reading and contextualizing carefully is so can see what they saw, rather than what we imagine. FWIW, Kevin Christensen Temporarily visiting Mountain View, CA
  9. Many of the harsher sermons of Brigham Young and other leaders on such things as blood atonement appear during the two year period of the reformation, 1856-1857. Brigham determined that this method wasn’t working, and he then discontinued this method of preaching. In 1861 he said “People are not to be driven, and you can put into a gnat’s eye all the souls of the children of men that are driven into heaven by preaching hell-fire.” (JD 9:124). From footnote 4 in this essay. https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/archive/publications/did-brigham-young-say-he-would-kill-an-adulterous-wife-with-a-javelin FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  10. Regarding the origins of indigenous peoples relative to what the Book of Mormon actually says and implies, rather than what what some "supposed" (see 3 Nephi 15:17, 22-23 as well as D&C 1:24-28 for key relevant cautions) I would recommend the following, at least. Brant Gardner's A Social History of the Early Nephites https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/conference/august-2001/a-social-history-of-the-early-nephites Matt Roper's Nephi's Neighbors https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/msr/vol15/iss2/8/ Matt Roper and John Gee on implications of Jacob's use of Isaiah on "I will lift up my hand unto the Gentiles..." (2 Nephi 6:6-7)and "the Gentiles shall be blessed and numbered among the house of Israel, Wherefore I will consecrate this land unto thy seen and and them who shall be numbered among thy see, forever for the land of their inheritance..." (2 Nephi 10:18) https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/i-did-liken-all-scriptures-unto-us-early-nephite-understandings-isaiah-implications-others FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  11. Wright's essay in American Apocrypha was not the last and final word on the topic of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon. John Tvedtnes published an important response back in 2004 in the FARMS Review 16/2. Some important observations from Tvedtnes include: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1633&context=msr He makes an overall comment in his footnote 2. Tvedtnes looks at the variants overall and makes this observation and conclusion: Several separate but crucially important issues emerge in considering the Original and Printer's Manuscripts. And this: And even more notably, this kind of thing: Tvedtnes also questions the weight Wright gives to passages deemed "obscure" or "unintelligible" the Hebrew. He also questions Wright's citation of an 1831 Philadephia newspaper article that "is clearly heresay, and, as far as I can determine, unattested by statments made by Joseph Smith and Martin Harris, about whom the article speaks." These kinds of things call into question the overall soundness of Wright's approach. I cannot help but notice that you did not mention them, but only mentioned that Wright criticized a much earlier effort by Tvedtnes. But expections are important, and it is one thing to base one's expectations on an abstract ideal, "Surely God would ensure that no human imperfections would appear in anything he assigns a prophet to do, rending them into his sock puppets without any discernable humanity (for evidence supporting this unquestionable assumption see nothing whatsoever) and that when they do, we can be sure that Wright, being a noted Brandeis scholar, can be assumed to have transcended his own humanity. Analytics wrote: The first sentence is way too abstract to be useful. Specificity is important for what Kuhn calls the criteria of "puzzle definition and testability." I notice that the statement that "Whatever nuggets that are found are the results of looking everywhere for everything" is also notably abstract and also directly comparable with Helaman 16:16 that " Some things they may have guessed right, among so many; but behold, we know that all these great and marvelous works cannot come to pass, of which has been spoken." Regarding the translation, I like Kevin Barney's term, "complex translation", rather than "loose" or "tight control" simply because in general, the realities of cross cultural and cross temporal translation where different human beings are involved cannot, and should not, be oversimplified. Some concepts and ideas may translate (and think of the range of definitions in the 1828 Websters) easily, some, quite simply, will not. And in even some of the most important and effective translations introduce anachronism, such as the "candle" and the "bushel" as in "Do men light a candle and hide it under a bushel?" I do not think you really grasp Kuhn's description of most important values involved in paradigm choice. For instance, "the proponents of different paradigms will often disagree aabout the list of problems that any candidate for paradigm must resolve. Their standards and definitions of science are not the same." (Kuhn 148). Many of the things that I find most persuasive simply do not appear on your list, nor in anything I have read from Wright, or the many other critics I have explored. And as to "fruitfulness", Kuhn writes that "particularly persuasive arguments can be developed if the new paradigm permits the prediction of phenomena that had been entirely unsuspected while the old one prevailed." (Kuhn, 154). Wright, I noticed, in his notably learned and careful study of Alma 13 completely overlooked a great many things I see significant in Alma 13. And beyond that, I notice that nothing that he or you has written had acknowledged, let alone explained in any meaningful way, for instance, "Survor Witness in the Book of Mormon" (Hawkins and Thomasson's amazing paper), https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/i-only-am-escaped-alone-tell-thee-survivor-witnesses-book-mormon let alone Larry Poulson's geographic corrolations, or Lehi's Journey, or the kinds of things that LiDAR recently showed, nor literally hundreds of studies I have read by people with expertise I do not have who offer unexpected insights that I could not have imagined. Nor the personal spiritual confirmations I have had. They are not on you list. Fine. But another things Kuhn points out is that: In comparing my own experience in reading the Tanner's work with Richard Packham's that you offer as an alternate paradigm, I can only reflect on just how much I have seen and learned and experienced in the past 35 years or so that I would not only have never imagined, but also that I would not even know what I had missed. So, with a subtantial sense of awe and gratitude, I thank God for faith. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  12. Do you see a problem in anthropomorphizing evidence to the point where you can follow it where it leads, as though the evidence itself knows where it is going, and why you should follow it, and that evidence has the capacity to speak for itself to the extent that no scholarly input or effort is required? That sort of thing is why I keep quoting N. H. Hanson, to the effect that "All data are theory laden" and Kuhn that "Anomally emerges only from a background of expectation." As to what I should expect from Joseph Smith's account of making an inspired translation of an ancient document, should I base my expectations on what happens with an academic translation, or from other accounts provide a range of actual evidence of inspired translations of say, a half dozen other books like the Book of Mormon? In his essay, Wright specifically suggests that Joseph Smith's translation should be completely independent from the King James version, which sounds reasonable unless one of the priorities of one who organized this translation that the result should be easily recognizable. That is a theory, but upon what actual examples of inspired translations from metal plates by semi-literate plowboys does Wright base that expectation? It may be a reasonable surmise, but without an evidential basis, it must be admitted to be a surmise nonetheless. And are all academic translations completely independent from previous translations? The KJV, I notice, was heavily dependent on Tyndale's earlier translation, over 90% as I recall. Do the authors of the New Testament make original translations from the Hebrew, or do they rely in the Septuagint because that was the translation in common use? And if there are differences between the versions of Old Testament passages in the Masoretic text and the DDS text and the Septuagint, which version counts most? And there is the issue of what Joseph Smith claimed. He claimed to have a document that had a range of editors (notably Nephi, Mormon and Moroni), a range of sources (Brass plates, the provenance of which as nearly contemporary with Lehi, and dependent on whatever sources and editoral traditions go with that, Small Plates, Large plates, and a range of various records employed by different writers. We don't necessarily have the "pristine" words of Isaiah, but rather, a source behind the quotations. And then for the translation, we have comments that say "given unto my servants in their weakness" (and NOT transcending any human weakness), "after the manner of their language" (language being something that notably changes over time and culture), "that they might come to understanding." Some of what we ought to understand is that despite having seen in the DeMille 10 commandments, and read the Bible accounts of the stone tables with the commands on them, even the Bible as we have it demonstrates differences in the 10 commandments between Exodus and Deuteronomy. In all human interactions with one another and with diety, it is to be expected that "And inasmuch as they erred, it might be made known" (D&C 1:24-25). And Joseph Smith's reports that Moroni sometimes quoted the Bible with variations, and that his own translations could be "sufficiently plain to suit my purposes as it stands" (D&C 1:128:18.) If, as Wright claims, Joseph Smith just gives us something that bears no evidence of being an actual translation. How are we to judge? What should we notice, and what should we value? What in that 1828 Webster's definition says that any translation, let alone an inspired translation, to succeed in its purpose, must and should be completely independent of any existing translations, or must be absolutely perfect in every respect (at least as far as contemporary scholarship can judge)? Expectations differ. Some LDS scholars (famously, but not exclusively Ostler) and other scholars (Charlesworth speaking of the Book of Mormon) propose Midrashic commentary in places, expanding the text, whether by Mormon and Moroni or Jesus (who, we seldom consider, called for edits to the records that the Nephites showed him), and who Mormon and Moroni, in defiance of the assumptions that there could be no awareness of any New Testament language, both report personal encounters with the resurrected Jesus, who, as far as I can tell, in conversing with custodians of the sacred record about the most consequential and far reaching efforts of their lives, was NOT forbidden by academic protocols of fairness and the assumptions of blind testing to say anything beyond, "Hi." And then we have Joseph Smith, who could have behaved just as the Aramaic translators did, in expanding at times the Aramaic to clarity meaning for the readers in ways that the existing Masoretic Hebrew does not precisely account for. Joseph's efforts do not match up with what Wright was trained to see. I get that. But I've also notice that if I base my expectations on the purely local and human 19th century event that Wright sees in the Book of Mormon, there is "far more in heaven and earth than is dreampt of in [his] philosophy." I cannot get from his picture of Alma 13, for example, to those offered by John Tvedtnes, John W. Welch, and Margaret Barker. Wright's picture of Joseph Smith as not a real translator does not explain anything whatsoever in Matthew Bowen's recent Name as Key-Word, for instance. And Welch's work on The Sermon on the Mount as a Temple text, which argues that it was a composition by Jesus, fits perfectly in 3 Nephi and such. And there are things like Gardner's Second Witness, Larry Poulson's work, the details of Lehi's Journey through Arabia, and such, as well as the unexpected and elaborate convergence of Barker's work with the Book of Mormon, including her case that Isaiah 53 was based on Hezekiah's bout with the plague and was therefore, pre-exilic and available to Abinadi, the dazzling convergence of the revolutionary LiDAR picture and the Book of Mormon and much much more by hundreds of notable scholars that Wright does not address, nor follow, nor explain, but simply ignores as irrelevant to his current conclusions. The questions are rather, "Which paradigm is better?" and inescapably "How do we measure "better?" Simplicity is only part of the test Kuhn describes for good paradigm decisions. (Nowadays I always think of the Monty Python sketch in which competitors have less than a minute to explain their Kennedy Assassination theories. The winner in the competition says, "A tiger got him." Compared to the offerings of the other contestant depicted, that is unquestionably simpler. But better? That absurdity highlights the problem that you neglect here and that Kuhn addresses in calling for criteria of Puzzle definition and testability, Accuracy of Key predictions, Comprehensiveness and Coherence, Fruitfulness (which involves what a person sees when trying on the new paradigm for size and nurturing the seed within that view, and seeing what grows that they would otherwise not even imagine), simplicity and aesthetics and future promise. Wright's view, I notice, considerably lacks future promise. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  13. I didn't find Jackson's critique of Nibley's scholarship to be an outstanding example of good scholarship. I retain a great fondness of most of the essays in Old Testament and Related Studies, especially "Before Adam" and "Patriarchy and Matriarchy", and I and remain tremendously impressed by Nibley's work and achievements, though having no illusions about him being perfect. I I have read two or three things by Jackson that I think are pretty good, and of the book I have of his, his 2001 The Restored Gospel and the Book of Genesis, let's just say, it's not particularly exciting. But given that I also have Bradshaw's In God's Image and Likeness, I do have more interesting and exciting resources at hand. I have seen some critiques of specific Nibley arguments that I do find bother notable and persuasive, and in those cases, those making the case do not overgeneralize to dismiss everything. For instance, I can cite Will Schryver's case that regarding the nature of the Egyptian papers compared to Nibley's long essay in BYU Studies, and of Tim Barker's case regarding the implications of the some characters from the Joseph Smith Papyrus being employed to fill in gaps in of Facsimile 2, which Nibley, and everyone else, for that matter, had overlooked. In his review of The Prophetic Book of Mormon, while also giving a few specific examples of Nibley mistakes to acknowledge that he was not infallible, Daniel Peterson reports a very different experience with in checking background sources for the essay on the same "Qumran and the Companions of the Cave" article reprinted in Old Testament and Related Studies than does Jackson reports in saying "I found myself time and time again disagreeing with this books esoteric interpretations of qumran passages." (Jackson, BYU Studies review of Old Testament and Related Studies, 116). Peterson's experience offers a notable contrast. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/msr/vol2/iss1/21/ Most of my published LDS essays for the past 30 years have been built on the notion that while there are no rules governing choice between paradigms, there are the constraining values of puzzle definition and testability, accuracy of key predictions, comprehensiveness and coherence, fruitfulness, simplicity and aesthetics, and future promise. As Kuhn says, "It makes a great deal of sense of ask, which of two competing paradigms explains the facts better." But even that does not mean you should not seriously consider the how and why behind which facts a person selects to emphasize and to consider the conceptual and social framework behind how a person proposes to define and measure better. I've also paid close attention to the vice of positivism, the ideology that proclaims first and formost that it has no ideology, that prejudice is something that happens to other people, especially to believers. For a convenient discussion, see Barbour here: https://www.religion-online.org/book-chapter/chapter-6-paradigms-in-science/ Kuhn defended himself against charges of relativism in his second edition of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (especially 205-207), and Ian Barbour's Myth's Model's and Paradigms also weighs in at length and in detail. For the mildly curious, Novick's specific comments on the 80s situation with Old and New LDS Historians were these: The most notable feature of the current Church backed Histories, 33 years after Novick's talk, is the Joseph Smith Papers Project, which is making the originals of everything available to everyone. The most dominant feature of the project is to deal with the criticism that the church has to suppress the "historical facts" to survive. The Joseph Smith Papers, as well as the Mountain Meadows project demonstrate the same charter, the same determination to put everything available out there for anyone who truly wants to understand, something that takes more effort and patience than "seeking to make a man an offender for a word." One of the features of the old FARMS approach and the current Interpreter appoach is to deal directly and openly with critics and criticism, which means openly talking specifics rather than ignoring or suppressing discussion, and not, as the contrary narrative tries to claim, relying exclusively on character assassination. The one person notable for advocating an "anything goes" approach, not to history, but to science was Paul Feyerband in Against Method, making the case "the only principle that does not inhibit progress is: anything goes." (xxix) As an example, he closely examines Galileo's scientific and rhetorical strategies in defending Copernicus, and he observes that "the Church at the time of Galileo not only kept closer to reason as defined then and, in part, even now: it also considered the ethical and social consequences of Galileo's views..." (xxxi). FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  14. The difference between disillusion and enlightenment is the difference between shattering and expansion. Over the years, I found that whenever I ran across something that I did not expect, the best response has been to ask, "What should I expect?" That is why I found the Perry Scheme for Cognitive and Ethical Growth very helpful. From: Veda Hale vhale@infowest.com Subject: Perry scheme I was cleaning up my email and wondered if I ever sent this to you. Whatever....here goes. Veda PERRY SCHEME OF COGNITIVE AND ETHICAL GROWTH TABLE OF TRAITS BY POSITION AND TRANSITION POSITION 1 - Basic Duality. (Garden of Eden Position: All will be well.) The person perceives meaning divided into two realms-Good/Bad, Right/wrong, We/They, Success/Failure, etc. They believe that knowledge and goodness are quantitative, that there are absolute answers for every problem and authorities know them and will teach them to those who will work hard and memorize them. Agency is "Out there". The person is so embedded here that there is no place from which to observe themselves, yet they have a dim sense of there being a boundary to Otherness somewhere that gives their Eden-like world view boundary. Transition 1-2 - Dualism modified. (Snake whispers.) The person starts to be aware of others and of differing opinions, even among authorities. This started the feeling of uncertainty. But they decide it is part of the authority's job to pose problems. It takes hard work to deny the legitimacy of diversity and to keep the belief in the simplicity of truth. (It should be kept in mind that in any of the transition states it is easy for the person to become depressed. It takes time for the "guts to catch up with leaps of mind." When a sense of loss is accorded the honor of acknowledgement, movement is more rapid and the risk of getting stuck in apathy, alienation, or depression is reduced. When one steps into new perceptions he is unlikely to take another until he comes to terms with the losses attendant on the first.) POSITION 2 - Multiplicity Prelegitimate. (Resisting snake) Now the person moves to accept that there is diversity, but they still think there are TRUE authorities who are right, that the others are confused by complexities or are just frauds. They think they are with the true authorities and are right while all others are wrong. They accept that their good authorities present problems so they can learn to reach right answers independently. TRANSITION: 2-3 - Dualism modified Now the person admits that good authorities can admit to not knowing all the answers yet, but they will teach what they know now and teach the rest when they have it. They accept that disciplines are divided into the definite and the vague, but that in the end even science fails. Though they have given up dividing meaning into just two realms, they still feel knowledge and goodness are quantitative and that agency is "out there". POSITION 3 - Multiplicity Legitimate but Subordinate. (Snake's logic considered) The person still feels that the nature of things naturally produces differing opinions, but it's as it should be, because the Authorities will figure it all out and hand on their conclusions eventually. ALL OF THE POSITIONS ABOVE FEEL ABANDONMENT IN UNSTRUCTURED LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS. WHEN CHANGES IN THINKING START TO HAPPEN, IT CAN BE A DANGEROUS TIME. (The forbidden fruit has been partaken and one is out of the Garden of Eden.) There are seven ways a person can go. Transition 1. The person can make the transition by modifying dualism drastically to where one no longer trusts authority to have any answers, and they think it will be a long, long time before they will; therefore, there is really no way to be judged by them. Bitterness sets in, as it seems as if rewards don't come by hard work and rightness, but by good expression and arbitrary factors. With an inability to distinguish between abstract thought and "bull", disillusion settles and blinds the person to where they become dangerously cynical and take advantage of any opportunity to get gain. Transition 2. The person could decide that, if there are so many different answers a depending on individual perspective, that it is impossible for any true judgment; therefore anything goes. All is of equal value. To have an opinion makes it right. Transition 3. Same as above, except it dawns that there are some facts that, if known, can make for a better choice among the many. Transition 4. Anger and frustration win out. Instead of becoming cynical and opportunistic, person acts out negatively. Transition 5. The person is moving closer to accepting relativity. He trusts authorities to have valid grounds for evaluations. To get along, one needs to accept that authorities are using reasonable information in making their answers. So the person tries to discover what it is authorities think and want. Transition 6. Person realizes that on some matters, reasonable people reasonably disagree, that knowledge is qualitative and is context-dependent. They begin weighing factors and approaches in ways that force comparison of patterns of thought, they think about thinking and this occupies the foreground. But they still tend to want to conform so much that they have trouble thinking independently. Transition 7. This position between multiplicity and relativity is now closer to relativity. The person sees that thinking relatively isn't just what the authorities he has been dealing have reasoned out and want him to accept, it is the way the world works, in most cases. NOW UNCERTAINTIES OR DIVERSITIES MULTIPLY UNTIL THEY TIP THE BALANCE AGAINST CERTAINTY AND HOMOGENEITY, PRECIPITATING A CRISIS THAT FORCES THE CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW VISION OF THE WORLD, BE IT ONE MARKED BY CYNICISM, ANXIETY, OR A NEW SENSE OF FREEDOM. POSITION 5 Relativism discovered. The person accepts that all thinking is relative for everyone and are much taken with this new perspective. It could be a time of profound anxiety as the person struggles to understand how to make right choices. They decide they can and must do something about this new world view, but they may spend a long time before sensing a need for commitment. They can take responsibility for a task at hand, but don't yet realize they have a responsibility to choose commitments. THIS POSITION COULD MAKE FOR A PERSON WHOSE AGENCY FOR MAKING SENSE HAS VANISHED ENTIRELY. THEY COULD ALSO REACT BY POSTPONING DECISIONS, FALLING INTO APATHY OR GOING INTO A RAGE. IT COULD GET SO BAD IT COULD APPEAR THE PERSON NEEDS CLINICAL HELP. THE POTENTIAL FOR CYNICISM COULD BECOME EQUALLY ALARMING EDUCATIONALLY. If the person RETREATS, rage takes over and he loses agency to make sense. He survives by avoiding complexity and ambivalence and regresses to Dualism, position 2, (multiplicity prelegitimate). He becomes moralistic righteous and has "righteous" hatred for otherness. He complains childlike and demands of authority figures to just tell him what they want. If the person at this point doesn't retreat, he may go into a state of TEMPORIZING. His agency for making sense has vanished, but he postpones any movement. He may reconsign agency to some possible event. If so, Guilt and shame accompany the uneasiness about a failure of responsibility they feel hopeless to cope with. Or if not either of the above then the person may try to ESCAPE. He becomes apathetic. His agency for making sense has also vanished, but in his feeling of being alienated, he abandons responsibility and uses his understanding of multiplicity and relativism as a way to avoid commitment. He is drifting and has some sense that later he will find himself to be living a hollow life. This drifting with insecurity about "goodness" of his position can make for such a detachment that precludes any meaningful involvement. He starts to rely on impulse. THIS CAN BECOME A SETTLED CONDITION. "For the students reporting their recovery of care,...their period of alienation appears as a time of transition. In this time the self is lost through the very effort to hold onto it in the face of inexorable change in the world's appearance. It is a space of meaninglessness between received belief and creative faith. In their rebirth they experience in themselves the origin or meanings, which they had previously expected to come to them from outside." (page 92 of the Perry Scheme.) POSITION 6. Commitment Foreseen. FROM HERE ON THE PERSON WILL FEEL FRUSTRATION IN TOO-STRUCTURED OF AN ENVIRONMENT. Now the person thinks he is alone in an uncertain world, making his own decisions, with no one to say he is right. He makes choices aware of relativism and accepts that the agency to do so is within the individual. He sees that to move forward he must make commitments coming from within. He foresees the challenge of responsibility and feels he needs to get on with it. He also senses that the first steps require arbitrary faith or willing suspension of disbelief. He knows he needs to narrow his focus, center himself and become aware of internal, what could be called, spiritual strength. He starts to see how he must be embracing and transcending of: certainty/doubt, focus/breadth, idealism/realism, tolerance/contempt, stability/flexibility. He senses need for affirmation and incorporation of existential or logical polarities. He senses need to hold polarities in tension in the interest of Truth. He begins to maintain meaning, coherence, and value while conscious of their partial, limited, and contradictable nature. He begins to understand symbol as symbols and acknowledges the time-place relativity of them. He begins to affirm and hold absolutes in symbols while still acknowledging them to be relativistic. He begins to embrace viewpoints in conflict with his own. Now the person has a field-independent learning style, has learned to scan for information, accepts that hierarchical and analytic notes are evidence of sharpening of cognition. He is willing to take risks, is flexible, perceptive, broad, strategy-minded, and analytical. The TRANSITION position between Position 6, "Commitment Foreseen", and position 7, "Commitments in Relativism developed" is as follows: Besides the above, the person feels he is lost if he doesn't decide, that if he can once make one decision, everything else will be OK. POSITION 7. Commitments in Relativism developed. The person makes first commitment while being aware of Relativism, and has a vivid sense of CLAIMING AND POWER. He now more fully feels that agency is within him and foresees responsibility with excitement and anticipates more empowering as he makes more commitments and choices. The TRANSITION between Position 7 and Position 8, sees the person having made his first commitment but feeling that everything else is still in limbo and he is foreseeing problems coming from trying to juggling responsibility. He senses need to be: wholehearted--but tentative, to be able to fight for his own values--yet respect others. Now, besides the other ways of studying, the person begins to read not to conciliate Authority, but to learn on his own initiative. POSITION 8. Commitments in Relativism developed continues. The person makes several more Commitments while realizing he must find balance and establish painful priorities of energy, action and time. He starts to experience periodically serenity and well-being in the midst of complexity. He has a sense of living with trust in the midst of heightened awareness of risk. He accepts fact that order and disorder are fluctuations in experience. He searches for models of knowledgeability and courage to affirm commitment in full awareness of uncertainty. HE STILL NEEDS TO RECOGNIZE THAT EVEN THE MODEL MUST BE TRAN SCENDED, AND HE SENSES HE NEEDS TO DEVELOP IRONY. The TRANSITION between Position 8 and 9 brings trauma. The person feels everything is contradictory and he just can't make sense out of life's dilemmas. But he begins to develop sense of irony and sees he must embrace viewpoints in conflict with his own, not in the old multiplistic way of "separate but equal" or "live and let live" but truly embrace them with what might as well be called "love". POSITION 9. Commitments in Relativism further developed. The person now has a developed sense of irony and can more easily embrace other's viewpoints. He can accept life as just that "life", just the way IT is! Now he holds the commitments he makes in a condition of "PROVISIONAL ULTIMACY", meaning that for him what he chooses to be truth IS his truth, and he acts as if it is ultimate truth, but there is still a "provision" for change. He has no illusions about having "arrived" permanently on top of some heap, he is ready and knows he will have to retrace his journey over and over, but he has hope that he will do it each time more wisely. He is aware that he is developing his IDENTITY through Commitment. He can affirm the inseparable nature of the knower and the known--meaning he knows he as knower contributes to what he calls known. He helps weld a community by sharing realization of aloneness and gains strength and intimacy through this shared vulnerability. He has discarded obedience in favor of his own agency, and he continues to select, judge, and build. veda I made the case in "Sophic Box and Mantic Vista" in Interpreter that Joseph Smith and the LDS scriptures, by precept and example, try to lead us to Position 9. However, being a society of humans at difference stages of personal growth, we will always have people at all nine stages, all of whom need to be dealt with at the place they happen to be. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  15. Kent P. Jackson's review essay was a review of one book, Old Testament and Related Studies, vol. 1 of the Collected Works, and the generalizations he makes there do not even cover the range of essays in that one book, let alone apply to everything in the subsequent, and therefore, not reviewed 18 volumes. (Consider the Dead Sea Scrolls article, and Daniel Peterson's later comments on how astounded he was on Nibley's grasp of the background literature when he read it in light of his own specialized background in Arabic studies.) Compare the supposedly devastating insight that Analytics quoted: Peter Novick gives an excellent description of the standards of scholarly objectively that Nibley, according to Jackson, violates: Such is the ideal. The tricky bit is implimenting that ideal with respect to reality. Novick continues: Lou Midgley has very good response to Kent P. Jackson's review of that single book volume 1 of the Nibley Festschrift, By Study and By Faith v1 (lxx-lxxiii), a 1990 volume that Kent P. Jackson contributed to, which is a strange thing, if Jackson's regard for Nibley's work was altogether low. It did turn out that when Jackson wrote an essay for the FARMS Review of Nibley's Martha's book, he cited the existence of that review in BYU Studies as putting the lie to several of the claims Martha made in her book. Midgley made use of Novick's essay in responding to Jackson, as Novick's essay makes use of N. R. Hansen, Patterns of Discovery, Polanyi, The Social Construction of Reality, and of course, Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. The problem comes from assuming that ideology and prejudice and beams in one's own eye that ought to be examined is something that happens to other people, because if they were not prejudiced, they would, of course, agree with me. Analytics writes that I happen to have read, and responded in print to a few of Wright's papers over the years. In reading them, I find it important to keep in mind this from Douglas Hoffstader. What I noticed in reading Professor Wright's arguments is that his fixed systems of propositions were crucial to his arguments and his self-reflection on the possibility of beams in his own eyes were reminscient of those made by the philosopher of science, Bacon, in his devastating attacks on Copernicus. For instance, see if you can spot the key background assumption that dictates the skeptical conclusions in his essay on Isaiah in the Book of Mormon in American Apocrypha: The underlying assumption here, just as crucial to the conclusions reached here as are Bacon's assumptions in rejecting Copernicus is, "It's not the way I would have arranged things if I were God." If Wright were to make that assumption more explicit in his argument, he would then have to defend it's accuracy and applicability. In that case, the logical foundations might appear a bit more sandy that he wants us to assume, particularly in light of Isaiah 55:8-11 on his ways not being our ways. When God does speak in the Doctrine and Covenents, giving his approach, an authoritative declaration of "mine authority and the authority of my servants" talks of revelations being given "unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding." (D&C 1,:6, 24). When Joseph Smith talks about the Bible translation he uses, he says, "I might have rendered a plainer translation than this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands." (D&C 128:18). Wright's other important essay on the Book of Mormon in Metcalfe's New Approaches concerned his case for Alma 13 being anachronistically dependent on Hebrews. I pointed out in "Paradigms Regained" and "The Deuteronomistic De-christianizing of the Old Testament" the implications of Barker's The Older Testament for this argument. So I could write that "In contrast to Wright’s conclusion, Barker’s work connects the Melchizedek traditions to the First Temple, which not only moves them back seven hundred years earlier than Hebrews but also argues for the source of unity in those traditions behind Hebrews as being those of the temple." And further that: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/msr/vol16/iss2/5/ In all of this, I recommend reading Ian Barbour's wonderful, Myths, Models, and Paradigms: A Comparative Study of Science and Religion. https://www.religion-online.org/book/myths-models-and-paradigms-a-comparative-study-in-science-and-religion/ In matters of faith, we can openly acknowledge that we work on a basis of what Alma 32calls "cause to believe" rather than final, unquestionable, proof that coerces reason into submission. And indeed, that such a circumstance is preferable. FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  16. I've read it and quite liked it. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  17. There is always difficulty in fitting new wine into old bottles, absorbing the observations developed under one paradigm with its own rules and assumptions, and background theories, and making sense of them using a different set of rules. As N. R. Hanson famously put it, "All data are theory-laden." In Part 2, I have this: For the technical background behind Barker's reading of Isaiah 56:10, I look to her far more detailed readings in The Older Testament in pages 205 to 216. For instance, she looks at differences between the Hebrew and the Septuagint, notes some interesting corruptions and word play and alternate readings in the text, and makes other thematic comparisons with 1 Enoch. She reads 3 Isaiah (that is Isaiah 56 to 66) as describing a divided society, the returned exiles, addressed in Isaiah 61 in second person, and the prophets own people, addressed in third person. She writes in The Older Testament, 205. “A relatively uncritical appraisal of the book gives a picture of the enemies whom the prophet attacked, but the picture is not one for which we have been prepared, I have not found any commentary which actually dwells upon the identify of these enemies, or draws the very obvious conclusion. They were those inspired by the ideals of the Deuteronomists.” She notes that one group was clearly dominant, and had the"power to exclude the other. Thus, [Isaiah] 56.3 says that foreigners were separated and enuchs despised. The prophets assured them of a place within the community, and a future within the walls of the Lord. They would have access to the holy mountain [that is, the temple], freedom to offer sacrifices, and a place at the great ingathering of Israel. These must have been the aspirations of the prophet's peopld. Their enemies must have exluded forigners and eunichs, and denied that they had any place within the walls of Yahweh, or any right to stand upon the holy mountain. ...we may also deduce that the enemies put a great deal of emphasis on the Sabbath, upon separation, and upon their posterity who would inherit and perpetuate their name." (Barker, 206) "If my proposed reconstruction is correct, then the details of Isaiah 65 are very significant, for it is Deuteromony 23 which specifically excludes foreigners and eunichs from the assembly of the Lord. Neither of these two is condemned from approach to the heavenly hill, in e.g., Ps. 15. The prophet opted for these two because they represented the very lowest point of his enemies ideals. The passage also mentions separation which was one of the key words for their self identity of the restored community, as can be seen from Ezra 9.1, which echoes Deuteronomy 7.1. The prophet returns to this taunt in Chapter59. Both the prophets and his opponents give an important place to Sabbath and covenant; these are not grounds for dispute. The differences arise when it comes to deciding what the two institutions entail. External rituals divorced from justice and righteousness, are perceived to be perverse interpretations (Isa. 656.1-8). (Barker, 206) Barker also comments later that Isaiah "65.1-7 is similar to 57.1-10. Neither is simply a description of Canaanite religious practices, but rather a bitter comment on the restored cult in Jerusalem." Barker, Older Testament, 215). I can sympathize with the problems of dealing with a different paradigm. "All data is theory-laden." New wine does not fit in old bottles. I get that. But from my side, I notice that a lot of very enlightening material clearly escapes any notice in the paradigm you offer, and that Barker does not ultimately take a narrow proof-texting approach, but rather, a wide-ranging contextualizing approach. For that, investigators who say “May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore, what these things mean?” (Acts 17:19-20) will select and value very different things and make a discernably different kind of investigation than those who lean to deference to mainstream authorities, “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?” and show a notable strain of “seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him” (Luke 11:54). Given a single topic, observers taking one of these approaches rather than the other, tend to notice and value very different things, even when looking in the same direction. Barker does not build her case on on the tradition "that many priests of the original temple had fled to Arabia" but rather, mentions that sort of thing in light over other materials she has assembled. The Book of Mormon, for instance, has credit with some of her readers and could be seen as evidence that such things could happen. During the Barker seminar, when she mentioned this tradition, along side a few other texts late texts, her comment was "Straws in the wind, but they are all blowing in the same direction." That is, she does not make them the rock upon which she builds. Not being a Hebraist, I cannot argue much with those who dispute her reading of the DSS Isaiah scroll. I have seen her make the argument with good clear photographs, and after over 20 years and 17 books, I tend to give her readings serious favor. But I have noticed that as much as I like Donald Perry's book showing Hebrew parallelism in the Book of Mormon, the experience of reading his 1999 Ensign article on Noah's flood does not demonstrate a capacity for championing or offering non-traditional readings or for incorporating information from outside his specialized field into his interpretations. He strikes me, even in his Dead Sea Scrolls work, very much a conservative, traditional, safe voice. As and far as "Asherah is generally thought to have been YHWH's consort, not his mother." thought by whom and why, is worth thinking about since there are still lots of people who struggle with Yahweh being seen anciently as the son of El Elyon God Most High which also means that there must be a mother goddess around, rather than the manifestion of a strict monotheism. And Barker points out that the name Asherah shows signs of being polemic against a Hebrew Goddess originally named Ashratah, since Asherah was properly the name of a Cananite Goddess. One suggested etimology for the Book of Mormon name Sariah is "Jehovah is my prince." FWIW
  18. Yes. My footnote for the source of that Barker comment ("This implies that there is a need for university departments to make biblical studies relevant to all these latest trends in academe, and therefore, by implication, give it some sort of respectability, but no need to make it relevant to those who are the major users of the texts.") also includes a pointer to this statement from Spencer Fluhman at the Maxwell Institute in the 2016 post-Daniel Peterson version: https://mi.byu.edu/intro-msr-v4/ So it goes. FWYW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  19. Regarding Elkington and supposed association with Barker, The Centre for the Study of the Jordan Lead Books lists those officially associated with the Centre, and has a side bar with this statement about Elkington: Barker's own association with the lead books came as direct, personal invitation from Dr. Rowan Williams, then Archbishop of Canterbury. Behind my own case that "casual dismissal of of Barker's work is unjustified" is a great deal of reading and serious study for over 20 years. But I learned long ago, on the playgrounds of Adelaide Elementary school, that anyone can dismiss anything I say or do with a simple, casual, effortless, "So what?" And that is why I was so enlightened by comment in Betty Edwards's Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, an art book, that "most of us tend to see the parts of a form hierarchically. The parts that are important (that is, provide a lot of information), or the parts we decide are larger, or the parts we think should be larger, we see as larger larger than they actually are. Conversely, parts that are unimportant, or that we decide are smaller, or that we think should be smaller, we see as being smaller than they actually are." (Edwards. 134). I find that endlessly relevant to discussions of politics and religion as well as art and many other aspects of life. But it raises the question of how to check our own perceptions, to remove the beams from our own eyes that we might see clearly, as Jesus puts it. If "truth is knowledge of things as they were, as they are, and as they are to come," how do we acquire a greater knowledge of that? It turns out that in 3 Nephi, Jesus asks people to offer the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit, that is, to offer up what they think is important, and what they desire to be important, so that they can see things as they actually are. It's why Joseph Campbell observed that Buddhist temples have guardians that represent Fear (what we think is so) and Desire (what we want to be so). To enter the real, we have to be willing to offer up what we think and what we want. FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  20. My 10th Interpreter essay, 41st essay overall, has just dropped at Interpreter. Twenty Years After “Paradigms Regained,” Part 1: The Ongoing, Plain, and Precious Significance of Margaret Barker’s Scholarship for Latter-day Saint Studies https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/twenty-years-after-paradigms-regained-part-1-the-ongoing-plain-and-precious-significance-of-margaret-barkers-scholarship-for-latter-day-saint-studies/ There is also a pdf version with footnotes, rather than the endnotes of the html version. https://cdn.interpreterfoundation.org/jnlpdf/christensen-v54-2022-pp1-64-PDF.pdf?src=art Part 2, responding to critics, will be out at the end of January. FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  21. John Welch has a very good article giving a broad historical perspective on what happens with creeds in Christianity over time, in relation to what Joseph Smith said. Joseph's own comments on creeds include his observation/experience that the Methodists and other denomentation he knew had creeds that a person must believe or be kicked out of the church. For example, the minister who told Joseph Smith that all revelation had ceased with the death of the apostles, and there would never be anymore was making sola scriptura a creed. Over time, sure, creeds break down, but as Welch shows, what began as simple testimonies over time become more elabobrate attempts to define and nail down and permanently settle what to think. Joseph's personal comments on creeds are instructive and directly undercut the interpretation that the content is the problem ("all of them have some truth") and focus the attention where is should be, recognizing that since none of us know everything yet, we are in no position to make permanent creeds. https://rsc.byu.edu/prelude-restoration/all-their-creeds-were-abomination FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  22. On the question of creeds and abomination, it is first important to be careful with the original statement, and then to consider Joseph Smith's own remarks on the implications. Of creeds, and the specific problem that makes them an abomination: For sources, see page 137 here: https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/sophic-box-and-mantic-vista-a-review-of-deconstructing-mormonism/ The reference to "those professors" is local, Joseph's immediate options, not an absolute through all time and space. The notion that some professors draw near to God "with their lips, but their hearts are far from me" is not all that hard to demonstrate in human history. But remember that Joseph is also told in D&C 1 that "I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;" and also that "also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world;" The "others" are not specified, and Joseph's own statement on how we are judged relative to our mortal circumstances, not according to which group we are in, should count. FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  23. There is this alternative view. Joseph's line of thinking has precedent in the Book of Mormon: The problem is people, and the tendency to stop looking for further light and knowledge, and to turn towards a search for self justification. I searched out scriptures in the Bible that described what a person ought to do to find truth. It turned out that there was an organic relationship between the recommendations for finding truth and the arguments given by Biblical peoples to reject true prophets. Rather than applying the 28 Biblical tests for true prophets the rejection arguments turn out to boil down to people saying in essence, "It's not what I think it should be," and/or "It's not what I desire, not what I want most." Left brain logic, right brain emotion and valuing. And the Biblical recommendations for seeing truth turn out to be a formal process (via exploration, experiment, investigation, repentence, prayer, and persistence) for offering what a person thinks and wants on the altar of truth, that is, making the sacrifice of a broken heart, and a contrite spirit, a search for greater light and knowledge, rather then setting one's self up as the greatest light and knowledge. That Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon depict a God who understands that individuals are to judged in the circumstances in which they are placed and live, rather than against a one size fits all ruler shows God's wisdom and charity. It does not have anything to do with the obvious existence of apostacy, in the past or the present, amongst ancient communities or modern individuals. I think the best book on the Apostasy is this one: Early Christians in Disarray: Contemporary LDS Perspectives on the Christian Apostasy https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/early-christians-disarray-contemporary-lds-perspectives-christian-apostasy But I also see Barker's work on the Deuteronomist Reforms as very notable and telling, for example, The Older Testament. Plus, having read Nibley's The World and the Prophets and Apostles and Bishops in Early Christianity, as well as Barker's essay on the transmission of the scripture "Text and Context" in comparison to 1 Nephi 13, one thing that emerges clearly from all of that is, while God is wonderfully charitable and understanding to individuals in our circumstances and societies, there were clear changes in the covenants (compare Isaiah 24:5-5 and D&C 1:15, 22-23) and in the understanding and in the scriptures (see Barker's "Text and Context" and "Atonement: Rite of Healing", for example), that plain and precious things can be clearly seen as being both lost, and restored. FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  24. Sorenson pointed out long ago that, like us, Mormon lived after the great destruction and that he had no trouble corrolating before and after locations. "Face of the land" is not the same as basic shape and structure and major defining features. And consider Jerry D. Grover Jr. Geology of the Book of Mormon, (2014), which uses geological evidence of specific known volcanic events (the San Martin volcano, see pages 180 to 184) and fault systems as a means to show which corrolations fit best. FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  25. And there is Steve St. Clair's detailed essay on THE STICK OF JOSEPH: THE BOOK OF MORMON AND THE LITERARY TRADITION OF NORTHERN ISRAEL by Steve St. Clair. I saved a copy a long time ago. This used to be online, his extension of Sorenson's The Brass Plates and Biblical Scholarship, which places the Book of Mormon in the Northern Tradition. Noel Reynolds and Neal Rappleye have shown, in various places that 1 Nephi and 2 Nephi have political purposes, justifying Nephi leadership. As Deuteronomists thanks to popular currents in Jerusalem Laman and Lemuel would be impressed by Moses and David, and therefore, Nephi makes an effort to impress them by making allusions to Moses and David in his accounts. But Nephi is far more explicit in his references to Joseph and a prophesy about a forthcoming seer through Joseph (2 Nephi 3). FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
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