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Ryan Dahle

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About Ryan Dahle

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  1. Actually, I'm guessing that any perusal of an academic journal will demonstrate that many of their peer-reviewed publications involve topics that are slightly outside of the author's specific academic degrees, but are still within the main field of the author's expertise. I've never looked into it, but in many ways, I suspect this is actually more of the rule than the exception. Most scholars develop new interests and skills that goes beyond the niches of their formal academic training, especially in areas like linguistics, where a formal knowledge of linguistic principles (such as syntax) can easily directed towards a variety of areas. I don't see any reason that Carmack's formal training doesn't make him exceptionally qualified to evaluate the Book of Mormon's linguistic patterns.
  2. First of all, the Book of Mormon features we are talking about are primarily from the Early Modern period, not "Middle English" or "Olde English" as you keep bringing up. Second of all, his formal training in historical syntax is exactly the type of background that lends itself well to a study of the Book of Mormon's syntax.
  3. "Linguist": a person who studies linguistics "Linguistics": the scientific study of language and its structure, including the study of morphology, syntax, phonetics, and semantics. Specific branches of linguistics include sociolinguistics, dialectology, psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, historical-comparative linguistics, and applied linguistics. Stanford Carmack's bio from Interpreter: "Stanford Carmack has a linguistics and a law degree from Stanford University as well as a doctorate in Hispanic Languages and Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara, specializing in historical syntax and textual analysis. He currently researches Book of Mormon syntax and lexis as they relate to English usage and contributes to aspects of the Book of Mormon critical text project carried out by Royal Skousen."
  4. I think you misunderstand. Acceptance of the EModE data doesn't necessarily mean that Joseph was using a physical EModE manuscript for his dictation. I personally think Joseph translated the text in the manner reported by the witnesses. I just accept the fact that the text that was revealed to him had pockets of systematic EModE features in it. Also, Carmack does indeed have the expertise to make his argument. He is probably the most qualified person in the world to comment on such matters because he has both the formal linguistic background and training, and also because he has spent years of applying that expertise to this specific topic.
  5. I'm not sure what is so weird about the idea. Under Latter-day Saint assumptions about the Spirit World, we know that missionary work is going on there, and that it involves similar types of messages to what is taught on this side of the veil. So I assume the Book of Mormon plays a key role there as well and that all believing Latter-day Saints probably share that assumption. So I leave open the possibility that the text may have been available in English there before it was transmitted to Joseph Smith. So I further leave open the possibility that perhaps the version of the text that was revealed to Joseph Smith was adapted from an EModE text that was already in use in the Spirit World--or perhaps the text was introduced in mortality and in the Spirit World at the same approximate time (either way, these possibilities help explain why the text would retain some EModE features and yet be completely accessible to a 19th century audience--because it would serve both audiences). And as I mentioned before (which you didn't address) I think there are several rhetorical benefits from having the first version of the text retain some EModE features. There is no need to invoke silly theories about Zombies or Zelph.
  6. Why? No one knows precisely why the text is the way it is. Or maybe you are specifically asking how the text can be systematically something without being completely something. I think you could probably think of all sorts of analogies where something has systematic tendencies of a certain feature, without being entirely that feature. Its not some sort of categorical error or anything. The question could easily be flipped around. Why should we think Joseph held the assumption that he couldn't change God's words, especially when many of his comments about revelation shows that he saw God's word as being very adaptable and adjustable. Your question seems to reveal more about your own assumptions than it does about Joseph's. What makes you think he knew for sure where the text came from or when/how it was translated? Also, as a side note, the EModE can't actually date the text's translation, it only dates some of its language. As soon as you invoke the possibility that it was translated by a divine person or persons, then trying to pin down the translation act itself to a specific time becomes impossible (seeing that God knows the future, God knows all languages and can grant linguistic capacities to his servants, and spirits who lived in the EModE period would still be around in the Spirit world long after they died in mortality). Several possible purposes: https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/knowhy/why-were-the-plates-present-during-the-translation-of-the-book-of-mormon There is also the significance of the plates as an official and binding revelatory document: https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/doubled-sealed-witnessed-documents-ancient-world-book-mormon We don't know how the text got to be the way it is. Was someone in the EModE period responsible? Was God responsible? Was it translated by an individual or group of individuals in the Spirit world, who had some tie or connection to the EModE period? No one knows. I prefer something along the lines of the latter possibility, but remain open to other ideas. The other question is who are all the intended audiences? Just Joseph Smith's contemporaries? Modern readers from 1830 onward? What about English speakers and readers on the other side of the veil? I think all are possibilities, and the Spirit World offers a wider range of English readers that would need to be accounted for. What about the purpose of the EModE? Does it make the text inaccessible to a 19th century audience? Clearly not. Does it add rhetorical value to the text (giving it a feel of antiquity)? I think it does, especially in our day when we can better appreciate and identify the text's archaic features. Does it show that it's language isn't merely derivative of the Bible? Yes. But its intertextuality also shows it is heavily connected to the Bible. Which, in my opinion provides a nice blend and balance to things that accords well with the text's own view of its relationships with the Bible. In my mind, the infusion of EModE can serve multiple rhetorical functions at once. And, of course, it has possible apologetic value, but how much of an influence the text's EModE has in that context ultimately remains to be seen. Critics certainly aren't yet lining up to be baptized, now that the preliminary linguistic data is in. And even many Latter-day Saint scholars are skeptical and perplexed by the data. Do we have any solid answers for any of these types of speculations? No. That is the point that I raised before. But the fact that we don't yet have solid working theories for many aspects of the translation shouldn't lead us to reject the strong linguistic data telling us that the text most likely wasn't produced by Joseph.
  7. If someone is opposing what they consider is a bad idea, and that "bad idea" happens to be merely aligned or in agreement with Church doctrine, but if the reason the person opposes the idea has nothing to do specifically with the Church's position on that issue (particularly in situations where the person is not concerned about, aware of, or perhaps not even apprised of the Church's position) then sure--that person obviously wouldn't be an "anti-Mormon". But if the person openly and knowingly is opposing the Church doctrine, in the specific context and with specific knowledge that the Church holds that doctrine, in an effort to limit the Church's influence or dissuade people from looking favorably upon the Church, that would be much more akin to anti-Mormon behavior, at least on that specific issue. In that case, it would not just be a "bad idea" that the person is opposed to, but the opposition would be specifically directed at the Church for promoting or practicing what the person considers to be a bad idea. At least, that's how I understand the application of the term.
  8. I think we all wish there were more qualified individuals who were interested in the data and could responsibly, thoroughly, and fairly engage it. Yes, the miraculous nature of the Book of Mormon's claims and the religious and often very personal stakes involved make it difficult to approach the text with "academic objectivity"--to whatever extent such an ideal can even be attained. Hopefully not, but I suspect we will be waiting a long time before a qualified and essentially "neutral" outside scholar weighs on the debate--someone who doesn't have strong anti-Latter-day Saint leanings but who also doesn't have any agenda to promote the cause, as it were. Until then, we all will just have to do the best we can to work with the data and research we do have. And some people, of course, will just opt to wait out the issue indefinitely.
  9. Actually, the objection comes just as often from Latter-day Saints who already believe in the Book of Mormon and certainly don't need a new apologetic frontier to strengthen their faith or "prove" (as you say) to anyone else that the Book of Mormon is from God. In other words, the objection come both from without and within the orthodox Latter-day Saint community. And, for many researchers, there is a lot of value to figuring out the method of the translation beyond apologetic concerns.
  10. In a lot of ways, what seems crazy or not is more a product of assumptions than of the evidence itself. People who are not inclined to accept the implications of heavy amounts of EModE in the text (specifically that the wording of text most likely didn't come from Joseph Smith) often say something like "this theory brings up more questions than it answers"--as if that, in itself, should cause one to dismiss strong linguistic evidence. In science, strong evidence for previously unknown and unexpected phenomena often yields "crazy" results. But that doesn't stop good scientists from tentatively accepting those results as a working model and then continuing to explore the issue from as many angles as possible. Strong evidence--even when it yields unexpected and perplexing conclusions--should be taken seriously, no matter how many new unanswered questions it yields.
  11. I guess what I am saying is that the text's verisimilitude is part of what helps me, on a logical level, to believe in its historicity. It helpfully opens the door for rational belief in historicity by demonstrating that the text's reported events and details are generally believable in their purported ancient context, even if the specific narrative details and characters in the text can't yet be corroborated by external evidence. I don't see how that isn't relevant circumstantial evidence. Let's use a different example. Let's say, for the sake of analogy, that my friend tells me his now deceased father could bench press 400 pounds when he was a younger man. No one else ever witnessed this feat but my friend. And there is no way to directly verify his claims. And lets say I was quite skeptical of this claim for years, until one day my friend found a picture of him and his dad in his attic, from when his father was at his prime. And lets say that the photo showed that his father was indeed a man of very large stature, and that his arms were absolutely enormous. He looked very much like the type of man that could bench press 400 pounds. Is that or isn't it circumstantial evidence in favor of my friend's claim? The piece of information, although not direct "proof," makes the claim in question much more plausible, much more believable. That is how circumstantial evidence works, isn't it? It indirectly lends support or increases the plausibility or probability of an assertion being true. Maybe Smac 97 (it won't let me tag you and post for some reason) can tell me if and where I'm wrong. If I am correct, then it seems natural that people would marshal evidence of strong verisimilitude to help defend or promote belief in Book of Mormon historicity. And that, in turn, helps explain Smac97's line of reasoning and why these concepts (verisimilitude and historicity) so often go hand in hand in such discussions without distinction and qualification. It is just assumed, and I think rightly so, that evidence for one increases the plausibility or believability of the other--at least in this particular context.
  12. Thanks for sharing. I wasn't familiar with this nuance, and I think it is an important distinction that can help clarify discussions. I would suggest, though, that the very unique circumstances surrounding the discovery and translation of the Book of Mormon turn any sort of strong evidence of verisimilitude into pretty good circumstantial evidence for historicity. I suppose it might be sort of like if someone who doubted the historicity of the New Testament was visited in person by the resurrected Jesus Christ, and if Jesus told him or her that the accounts about his life in the New Testament were essentially accurate and true. That certainly wouldn't prove the historicity of the relevant New Testament texts in an academic sort of way (such supernatural visitations aren't permitted under most academic assumptions and the visiting personage could possibly not be what he seems; perhaps he is an alien in disguise or a demonic being or a sophisticated hologram or some other bizarre phenomenon). But to such a person, if this type of event were ever to happen and if the event was perceived as distinctively "supernatural" in nature, it would probably go a long way toward inviting belief in the essential historicity of the New Testament. In a similar way, strong verisimilitude coming from an author like Joseph Smith seems to help confirm the Book of Mormon's general antiquity, and it is hard, at least for myself and probably for others, to account for the text being authentically ancient outside of accepting Joseph Smith's own claims about its origins and its miraculous discovery and translation. At the same time, it seems illogical to me (because of a much more complicated network of assumptions that I don't have room to develop) to assume that the text is not historically what it claims to be while simultaneously being authentically ancient, miraculously discovered, and miraculously translated. So what I am saying is that because of the Book of Mormon's unique claimed origins and production history, verisimilitude may have much stronger implications for the plausibility of the text's historicity than it would for a text like the book of Esther. This may help partially explain why the distinction you are pointing out between verisimilitude and historicity is often not explicitly made in such discussions. That being said, I think the distinction you have brought up is important and helpful and should be used. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.
  13. Sorry, I'm not really interested in picking up where Smac97 left off. It seems to me that you haven't interacted with the arguments he is actually making, and which Smoot and many others have been making.
  14. I'm not an expert on this topic. My point is simply that there are probably a lot more people than we might assume who simultaneously feel the Book of Mormon is inspired of God and yet who highly doubt or outright reject its historicity on a fundamental level. Also, the term certainly wasn't "coined" by Smoot for his article. I believe it has been widely in use well before his article was published.
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