Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

Community Reputation

2,713 Excellent

About Nevo

  • Rank
    Halting Between Two Opinions
  • Birthday 09/06/1973

Profile Information

  • Gender

Recent Profile Visitors

3,558 profile views
  1. I think Brant Gardner's Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History (Kofford, 2015) and John W. Welch's The Legal Cases in the Book of Mormon (BYU Press, 2008 ) should be near the top of any "evidences for ancient origins" bibliography. Grant Hardy's Understanding the Book of Mormon (OUP, 2010) is also essential, even though he doesn't argue directly for historicity. I also add my endorsement of Book of Mormon Central. Their KnoWhys are generally of high quality.
  2. Royal Skousen has shown nothing of the sort, Robert. If mere assertion is enough to establish the truth of a claim, then here is Samuel Morris Brown and Terryl Givens: "Whatever else the Book of Mormon is, it's an English-language scripture written for the early nineteenth century. The book reads as if it were aware of the role it would play in antebellum America and the millennial preparations of that country for the restoration of Israel" (Brown, "'To Read the Round of Eternity,' Speech, Text, and Scripture in The Book of Mormon," in Americanist Approaches to The Book of Mormon, ed. Elizabeth Fenton and Jared Hickman [New York: Oxford University Press: 2019], 179). "Where the Bible was remote, the Book of Mormon was immediately relevant to the antebellum New York experience. The Book of Mormon expressed views on infant baptism, church and state, the providential role of the United States, and a dozen other timely issues" (Brown, Joseph Smith's Translation: The Words and Worlds of Early Mormonism [New York: Oxford University Press, 2020],134). "It is undeniably the case that folk magic, slippery treasures, and emotionally extravagant reactions to conversion all make their appearance in the Book of Mormon and in the popular culture of Joseph Smith's day. Mormons were undismayed by the transparent relevance of the Book of Mormon to nineteenth-century cultural and religious preoccupations . . ." (Givens, The Book of Mormon: A Very Short Introduction [New York: Oxford University Press, 2009], 115-116).
  3. The shape of the Church post-Covid? Pear-shaped, I'm guessing. That's been the case with me anyway. He can cross the border. He'll just need to isolate for 14 days afterward. Unless he can convince the Chief Public Health Officer that he will provide an essential service or convince the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, or the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness that his presence in Canada is in the national interest (see section 6 of https://orders-in-council.canada.ca/attachment.php?attach=39482&lang=en).
  4. That's unfair and untrue. Carmack is a trained linguist who has published in peer-reviewed linguistics journals. He is well equipped to comment on syntax and lexis (whatever that is). His findings on the Book of Mormon have clearly influenced Royal Skousen, who is also a trained and accomplished linguist. So saying he has "zero credibility" is simply false. You're simply resorting to ad hominem and harming your own credibility.
  5. Didn't mean to misrepresent. I'm not disputing that you've looked at a lot of 18th century English literature.
  6. Carmack has basically confirmed what I thought. These are his main sources: EEBO-TCP (15th-16th c.) Phase 1 has 25,368 texts transcribed EEBO-TCP (15th-16th c.) Phase 2 has 34,963 texts transcribed ECCO-TCP (18th c.) has around 3,000 texts transcribed (Carmack says he has recently added the full 180,000 title collection to his set of personal databases) Carmack's WordCruncher database of Evans (mostly 18th c.) "contains about 5,000 of the 40,000 titles available in the online Evans Early American Imprints collection." Only 2 titles date after 1800. Carmack says he has also checked Google Books and Shaw-Shoemaker. As Carmack himself has pointed out, Google Books does not offer a representative sample of early 19th-century writing. It doesn't include any journals or periodicals, for example, and omits books with poor OCR quality. Shaw-Shoemaker "contains virtually every book, pamphlet and broadside published in America during the first decades of the 19th century" but Carmack say he has only "limited access" to that database, which I guess explains why he hasn't used it much (at all?). He appears not have checked any databases of early American newspapers — by far the largest repository of early 19th-century writing. As far as I can see from his articles, the main Joseph Smith-era sources he works with are "25 pseudobiblical texts and counting."
  7. I assume you've mistaken Dallin D. Oaks for his father. Oaks fils is an "actual expert." He has a Ph.D. in English linguistics. Uh-huh. Well, you've followed this project more closely than I have. But from the articles I've read, it looks like Carmack checks Book of Mormon syntax against databases of tens of thousands of Early Modern English texts and a couple thousand eighteenth-century texts, and then uses a handful of hand-picked 19th-century texts as a control. The results are predictable.
  8. As I've mentioned before, my Dutch immigrant stepfather overused periphrastic did at least as much as the Book of Mormon does, and he wasn't a time traveler from 1550; he learned English in the 1970s. I realize this is only anecdotal evidence, but it makes me wary of concluding that idiosyncratic usage must necessarily derive from a particular century. I've also mentioned before Dallin D. Oaks's article in Book of Mormon Reference Companion on the language of the Book of Mormon, where he notes that "documents from the general time and area of Joseph Smith's boyhood attest to the presence in the local dialect(s) of some linguistic forms that would seem archaic to people today and that are similar to the language of the King James Bible." Oaks goes on to say: "It is common for rural communities to be conservative in preserving some older forms of speech. Furthermore, some religious groups often deliberately preserve older language forms. By these measures, Palmyra and its surrounding area thus represented a prime region for the presence of many older linguistic forms, because it was not only decidedly rural but contained a substantial number of members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) whose speech, even in normal everyday settings, was highly influenced by older forms of English" (119). Also important is his observation that "Joseph's ability to use [archaic] forms would not have to have been exclusively determined by any direct contact with the Bible. . . . His speech, like that of everyone else, would have had multiple registers that probably varied, depending on whether he was addressing a church congregation, relating a story to small children, or telling a joke to a group of friends. But it seems that he likely had a religious register containing features associated with the language of the King James Bible." Oaks concludes: "The language of the Book of Mormon translation was likely influenced by Joseph's own language" (119). This, of course, has been the predominant view of Latter-day Saint scholars for many years. You remember the Holmes stylometric study that looked at vocabulary richness? Matthew Roper and statisticians Paul Fields and Bruce Schaalje thought that Holmes overreached in his conclusions but allowed that his basic finding was correct: "The Holmes study shows only that the Book of Mormon texts, although consistently distinct in terms of noncontextual word usage and word-pattern ratios, display similar vocabulary richness. This might reflect simply that the Book of Mormon texts are the work of a single translator, as Joseph Smith claimed, and thus were limited by his vocabulary" ("Stylometric Analyses of the Book of Mormon: A Short History," JBMORS 21/1 [2012]: 36). Carmack believes that the author of the English text of the Book of Mormon "was a first-rate, independent philologist — someone extremely knowledgeable in the linguistics and literature of earlier English" ("Is the Book of Mormon a Pseudo-Archaic Text?" Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 28 [2018]: 231). Someone a lot like himself, in other words. But the limited vocabulary richness would seem to argue against this view of the author/translator as littérateur. Weren't many of the earliest readers of the Book of Mormon, after all, struck by its "plainness"? I view Carmack's analyses as interesting preliminary explorations, but I hesitate to join you and others in declaring the Book of Mormon an authentic Early Modern English text. Carmack's work has yet to be scrutinized by other specialists and, as far as I can tell, he has paid relatively little attention to nineteenth-century sources (although spoken dialects are probably going to be underrepresented in those sources anyway).
  9. Fair enough. Richard sounds like he may be an easy mark for this argument.
  10. This whole dialogue with "Richard" is so contrived, I assume it's fiction. Or at least fictionalized. But the condescension part rings true.
  11. Indeed. Two scholars to be precise. This reminds me of a line from David Calabro's review of Grammatical Variation, Parts 1 and 2: "The exacting grammatical approach seems to imply a very specific scholarly audience: a cadre of Book of Mormon philologists who are interested in approaching the English text of the Book of Mormon from a linguistic standpoint, with the same rigor that biblical philologists apply to the Hebrew Bible or the Greek New Testament. But this audience is currently narrow, consisting only of Royal Skousen and Stanford Carmack themselves." The number of scholars currently convinced that the Book of Mormon "is a creative and cultural translation . . . grounded in the 1500s and 1600s" likewise seems to be hovering around one or two. Calabro goes on to register some reservations about the EModE hypothesis that I think are worth noting:
  12. Agreed. The Book of Mormon defies simple explanations, but there is no need to reach for the most outlandish ones. Joseph Smith dictated the Book of Mormon to scribes in 1829. Like the Nephite king Mosiah, he professed to have a spiritual gift that allowed him to translate "records that are of ancient date" (Mosiah 8:13). Joseph used this gift to bring forth the Book of Mormon and other scriptures, including a parchment of John and a record of Abraham. As soon as the Book of Mormon was published, Joseph founded a church, using the Book of Mormon as a blueprint. Joseph Smith presented himself to his followers as a charismatic prophet, seer, revelator, and translator, who could interpret unknown languages "by the gift and power of God." He saw himself as a world-historical figure whose role was foretold by ancient prophets. As early as the second millennium BC, it was allegedly revealed to Joseph of Egypt that Joseph Smith Jr. would be "a choice seer" who would be "great like unto Moses." He would be God's instrument in bringing the Book of Mormon to Joseph's latter-day descendants (and in convincing them of the truth of the Bible), thereby bringing them "unto salvation" (2 Nephi 3: 7, 9, 11, 15; cf. JST Genesis 50:26–33). Given the role Joseph Smith saw for himself in salvation history, and given the confidence with which he revealed scripture and spoke in the name of God, Occam's razor would suggest that Joseph Smith produced the Book of Mormon, rather than some anonymous Early Modern English speaker. Against Skousen's claim that Joseph Smith simply read words off his seer stone, exercising little or no control over the text, Samuel M. Brown has recently argued that "text-internal clues . . . strongly suggest that he was, in general, not reading from a seer stone or from any other source text" ("Seeing the Voice of God: The Book of Mormon on Its Own Translation," in Producing Ancient Scripture: Joseph Smith's Translation Projects in the Development of Mormon Christianity [University of Utah Press, 2020], 167). Regarding Skousen's observations of "scribal anticipation," Brown writes: Regarding Skousen's evidence for "dictation blocks" of 20 to 30 words, Brown notes:
  13. I agree. I think we'll have a better sense how strong the "comparative lexical and syntactic material" is once it is presented to other specialists in historical linguistics. If this is academically serious work, let's see it presented at linguistics conferences or published in linguistics journals (English Language & Linguistics, Journal of Linguistics, etc.) rather than exclusively in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship. If Skousen is confident that early modern England provides the Sitz im Leben for the Book of Mormon (1830), let's see him make this argument in Past & Present, Historical Journal, Sixteenth Century, etc. Joseph Smith dictated the Book of Mormon to scribes in 1829. The Book of Mormon refers to Joseph Smith and Joseph Smith Sr. by name and alludes to Oliver Cowdery. It prominently references an event in 1828 (the loss of the 116 pages), which also affects the book's structure. Those facts alone will stop "good scientists" from accepting the Book of Mormon as a product of the sixteenth century.
  14. I have read Owen and Brooke. And, like many readers, I remain unconvinced that Joseph Smith was steeped in hermeticism (alchemy, Rosicrucianism, Kabbalah, etc.). But even if Owen and Brooke are right, and Joseph Smith drew from this tradition, how does that support the thesis that the Book of Mormon was written in the Elizabethan era? The Book of Mormon itself has little or nothing of hermeticism in it. By the way, switching gears, I came across an article today that I think you would be interested in. It has been out for a month but I just learned of it: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/06/29/in-search-of-king-davids-lost-empire
  15. We've been over this before. To say that the Book of Mormon belongs to the nineteenth century is not to deny its distinctiveness. Bushman does a good job of highlighting its counter-cultural aspects. It wasn't simply a hodgepodge or pastiche of nineteenth-century Americana. There was nothing else quite like it. I can't comment on your paper because it is unpublished, but even though scrying had been around since the 1500s (and probably much earlier), Joseph Smith was hardly some throwback to the early modern period. He wasn't even the only scryer in his neighborhood. As the Church website notes, "'seeing' and 'seers' were part of the culture in which Joseph Smith grew up. Some people in the early 19th century believed it was possible for gifted individuals to see lost objects by means of material objects such as stones. Joseph Smith and his family, like many around them, accepted these familiar folk practices."
  • Create New...