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  1. In 3 Nephi 22:9 we read of Jesus speaking to the surviving populations in the America's upon His appearance in America. While most of his comments are merely a duplication of his ministry in the Holy Land one bizarre remark stands out in that it confirms the reality of the Universal Flood Myth. Why does Jesus mislead His Nephite audience by propagating the flood myth?
  2. I am not a conspiracy kind of person. I had a thought the other day that if you really believe the Book of Mormon you cannot state the following: All conspiracy theories are false.
  3. Believers often pose the question, if not from God then how? How could an uneducated farm boy produce this book on his own without God's hand? This new book provides an answer to that question. Quoted liberally from his Amazon reviews: In a fascinating new book Dr. William L. Davis draws on performance studies, religious studies, literary culture and the history of early American education, Davis analyzes Smith's process of oral composition. Davis provides a plausible alternative explanation for the coming forth of the Book of Mormon from the official narrative. He explains how Smith was able to produce a history spanning a period of a 1,000 years, filled with hundreds of distinct characters and episodes, all cohesively tied together in an overarching narrative. Eyewitnesses claimed that Smith never looked at notes, manuscripts or books, that he simply spoke words of this American religious epic into existence by looking at a Seer Stone. Davis shows how this long held assumption is not true, that Smith had abundant time between looking at his seer stone to produce his story line and to think through his plot and narrative. If you approach this book without a preconceived axe to grind, you will find solid research explaining how the oral sermon culture of the 19th century either crept into the Book of Mormon as Joseph Smith translated it (from a believer's perspective) or explains how Joseph could have constructed the narrative himself (from a skeptic's). Davis does not take sides and leaves room for both believing and skeptical perspectives. Judging the truth of the books claims is not Davis's interest. Rather, he reveals a kaleidoscope of practices and styles that converged around Smith's creation with an emphasis on the evangelical preaching styles popularized by renowned preachers George Whitefield and John Wesley. He allows for the believer to maintain a faithful view of the book. In Visions in a Seer Stone, Davis adroitly restores for the modern reader aspects of the now-forgotten sermon culture of Joseph Smith’s 19th-century, burnt over district, world and the well-established rhetorical performance techniques of its preachers. Davis then demonstrates that this oratorical praxis—in which Joseph Smith himself was a participant—illuminates not only Smith’s production of the Book of Mormon as a dictated performance bearing the indicia of these sermon preparation and delivery techniques, but it also illuminates the very text of this LDS scripture itself, both its narrative events and sermon contents. Davis details how numerous Book of Mormon narrative features—headings, outlines or summaries, some visible in italics and many others less visible in the text—are not mere textual devices for the reader, but were effective 19th-century sermon performance tools Smith could use to keep track of and produce the narrative as he dictated it. Davis produces an exhaustive list of ministers who wrote about sermon delivery techniques using such headings or outlines—“laying down heads”— with all of them substantially in agreement, having borrowed from each other and from bible dictionaries, such as Adam Clarke's bible commentaries and other sermon manuals, as well as from “Heathen Moralists” such as Plato, Aristotle and other philosophers, rhetoricians and writers from antiquity (see in particular on pp. 42 and 71 as to Bishop John Wilkins and the sources he used as well as his primary techniques to assist the preacher to speak from memory and which enable the congregation to understand “with greater ease and profit, when they are before-hand acquainted with the general heads of matters that are discoursed of”.) Smith incorporated these same rhetorical techniques into his Book of Mormon Davis shows that The Book of Mormon narrative contains many examples of its characters also using these oratorical techniques, the most visible formulation of which is found in Jacob 1:4 in which Nephi gives Jacob very explicit instructions on preaching that (other than his references to “plates”) could easily have been inserted into the pages of a 19th-century sermon composition manual: “if there were preaching which was sacred, or revelation which was great, or prophesying, that I [Jacob] should engraven the heads of them upon these plates, and touch upon them as much as it were possible” (see p. 91). The term Heads while not a familiar to the modern reader would have been quickly recognized by an early 19th century reader as familiar terminology used by the religious orator as topical notes highlighting important points to touch upon in the sermon. Although not an active Latter-day Saint himself, Davis writes generously for those still in the fold, providing room for Latter-day Saints to retain their faith in this book of LDS scripture while incorporating Davis’s new findings into a still orthodox understanding of inspired translation as described in LDS scripture, in Doctrine & Covenants 9:7-10. However, as shown by Avid Reader’s Amazon review of this book, apparently not all apologists will be satisfied with this option. One reviewer complained that— headings, outlines and summaries have been used for centuries by historians and other ancient writers, including Josephus and Aristotle, and that they would have been available somehow to the Book of Mormon’s ancient authors—is interesting since it actually supports Davis’s thesis. Take the preachers who wrote about the oratorical techniques described by Davis. They themselves, in formulating and promoting these 19th-century techniques, had access to and were informed by these very authors noted a reviewer. (see the note about Bishop Wilkins above, not to mention the pseudo-archaic book genre in 19th-century America that borrowed them as well)! Yet these ancient authors noted by siad reader (both living in Greco-Roman times) are not ancient enough to have informed the Book of Mormon’s purported ancient authors who themselves left Israel before the Babylonian exile, a time when outlines, headings and summaries are not known among ancient scribes and authors (and even LDS apologists now recognize that ancient scribal colophons are not the same thing—see Davis, p. 126). Davis has identified tell-tale signs within the Book of Mormon that give hints of Smith processes. He also offers historical reference to Smith's becoming a trained Methodist orator. This sounds like a very interesting book and I'm wondering if anyone here has read it and would share your thoughts. <-------- Not King Benjamin
  4. Two months ago someone from my extended family, Richard (not his real name), left the church. “I believe Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon,” he said. I spent an hour or so pushing back on this point. I brought up the complex geography of the BOM (“Fiction writers very rarely invent geography, and when they do it’s a very simple geography”); the language (“Who invents something like Reformed Egyptian? If you’re inventing a story about Jews from 600 BC you have them speaking Hebrew”); the various plates (“Someone could write a whole book on the various plates in the BOM alone, the abridgments, the abridgments of abridgments, the large plates, the small plates, what happened to these plates over the course of a thousand years”); the messiness yet internal consistency of the narrative (“Fiction is not messy, it is tidy, organized. But the BOM is untidy, messy, and there are loose ends everywhere. Why? Because it is not fiction"); etc., etc. But it was all to no effect. Richard has never been a reader, and most of what I said––well, it just didn’t register with him. But what I said next, did. “The Book of Mormon was originally rendered in a language Joseph Smith didn’t know.” “What?” “The Book of Mormon, the original text that Joseph Smith dictated, was not written in the English of that day. It was not the King James English of the Bible, nor was it the English of Joseph’s day. It was written in Early Modern English, a language which had been out of use for 200 years by 1827. This was a language Joseph Smith did not know and could not have known.” Long pause. I’d finally hit on something that Richard could grasp. "The presence of Early Modern English in the Book of Mormon is proof that Joseph Smith did not produce the book himself," I said. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that it is a different kind of proof, one that is easily grasped by someone like Richard, who is not going to respond to other proofs. Not that Richard is suddenly going to return to the church. I doubt that he will. But the presence of EModE in the BOM, when taken with all of the other proofs, makes it extremely unlikely, really impossible, that JS wrote the BOM. P.S. - Tried to edit headline but can't.
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