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The Bible versus the Book of Mormon


Daniel Peterson

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I'm pleased to report that a critique of the Living Hope Ministries film The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon, written by Brant Gardner, materialized on the FARMS web site just a few moments ago in HTML format. (It will, I think, also be put up in the near future in PDF format, and will appear, very shortly, somewhere else, too. When it does, I'll announce it. Or somebody else will.)

http://farms.byu.edu/

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Brant Gardner also has a Web Page on his Web Site Page that has a commentary by him for the Book of Mormon. Even though I don't agree with every commentary he has for nearly all of the Book of Mormon Scriptural Passages that he has a commentary for, I have found that his commentary Web Page to be very informative. Here is the Link to his Book of Mormon Commentary Web Page: http://frontpage2000.nmia.com/~nahualli/commentary.htm

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The review looked very good. I was wondering when a response would be put up. Saw the film & the review answered a few of the questions left over from my viewing the film. Saw it twice.

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I just want to be sure that the evening crowd sees this notice.

Thank you.

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Holy Demolitions, Brantman! What an article you have written!

Having seen Murphy's traveling slide show in person, I can

attest to the shallowness of his knowledge of things Mormon

and the Book of Mormon in particular. Thanks for the time

and effort to produce this important and devastating review.

Bernard

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I can't find the link to the article on the Farms site, or Brant's site.  Can someone post a direct link to it, or tell me how to find it

The link is available at three different points on the very first page of the FARMS website, at

http://farms.byu.edu/index.php

Two of them occur in the little paragraph (written by someone very well known to my wife and kids) that appears under these words:

FARMS What's New Today

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Special Feature

Review of The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon

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Don't know how they selected them. Many of them seemed ok with me. I just wasn't convinced by what they said.

Tom Murphy bugs me because he sounds like an Evangelical in some of his sound bites. But I know he does not believe in what they do. I sometimes thing I need to make a fake foam Book of Mormon to throw at my TV when I watch these things. Hate to break my TV over getting irritated over listening to these people.

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There is, I get the impression, something of an evangelical pipeline to certain universities in the UK. Aberdeen is one of them, where quite a number of evangelical New Testament scholars, for instance, have earned their doctorates. I'm guessing that the biblical studies faculty at Aberdeen is either itself evangelical or, at least, "evangelical-friendly."

Patterns like this are sometimes established and survive simply because X knows Y, who went to such and such a place, and so X goes too, and then tells his friend Z, who also goes there. Soon, a community coalesces around X, Y, and Z, and many of their friends or kinfolk or fellow Transylvanians or Rastafarian brothers show up as well.

This has happened with Mormons, or so it seems to me. In the twentieth century, certain Mormons (e.g., John Widtsoe, Levi Edgar Young, etc.) began to go to Harvard. Eventually, there was a regular pipeline between Utah and other Mormon communities and Cambridge, Massachusetts -- at least as compared with other Ivy League schools. Relatively few Latter-day Saints have gone to Princeton and Yale for graduate school, historically speaking, although that has now changed considerably.

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I do enjoy many aspects of the film. I just thought they raised a lot of points that were not the unquestionable points they think them to be.

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The review looks good. However, I think it is problematic to assert that William G. Dever "believes that the Bible is historical." Although he does allow that it "contains much history"--at least for those who know how to mine it critically--Dever writes that "the Hebrew Bible in its present, heavily edited form cannot be taken at face value as history in the modern sense."

He goes on to say that although "some" of the stories in the Pentateuch "may once have had a real historical setting. These traditions, however, are overlaid with legendary and even fantastic materials that the modern reader may enjoy as 'story,' but which can scarcely be taken seriously as history" (William G. Dever, What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001], 97-98).

For instance, Dever is on record as stating, "Not only is there no archeological evidence for an exodus, there is no need to posit such an event. . . . I regard the historicity of the Exodus as a dead issue" (quoted in Graham Davies, "Was There an Exodus?" In Search of Pre-Exilic Israel, ed. John Day [JSOTS 406; London and New York: T&T Clark, 2004], 24).

Regarding Leviticus and Numbers: "These are clearly additions to the 'pre-history' by very late Priestly editorial hands, preoccupied with notions of ritual purity, themes of the 'promised land,' and other literary motifs that most modern readers will scarcely find edifying, much less historical."

Ruth, Esther, Job, and Daniel are "historical novellae with contrived 'real-life settings'" (Dever, What Did the Biblical Writers Know, 99).

Even "the historical works in the great national epic sweeping from Joshua through Kings are problematic as 'sources.' These texts cannot simply be picked up and read in a straightforward manner as though they constitute objective factual history in the modern sense, based on contemporary eyewitness reports" (William G. Dever, Did God Have a Wife?: Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005], 64).

And so on.

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I just finished reading the review. I have seen the video as well. I agree with Brant that the video is horribly simplistic. This said I think the video is very effective. Most people out there will never study it in depth and come with a very simple approach to history, archaeology, etc. I think Brant tries in his review to educate readers about the nuances of scholarship, but I think he fails. This isn't necessarily his fault, just that it requires far more than he can reasonably write in a review. More importantly it requires willing readers to want to understand, which will require them to read more than they probably are willing to do.

The video certainly puts members on the defensive. I have to say that the best defense against this attack I think would reuire visual and very strong evidence. It is not enough to write theoretically to most people. Put something hard and material on the table and they will be more likely to swing your way.

I do not think it is enough to focus on geography. There are some elements of the Book of Mormon that no matter where you put the events of the Book of Mormon will continue to be problems. Namely horses, elephants, steel, etc. Failure to mention many things we do find in the Americas and also what seems like a very different culture from what we find in Mesoamerica means it will be hard to convince people that missing really means there.

I sympathize with your efforts, as the video is somewhat simplistic. At the same time I do feel like the overall message of the video is important and has many implications for the Book of Mormon. It is true that just because we can find material evidence of something mentioned in the Bible doesn't mean the Bible account is accurate. However, I cannot help but feel this is a huge head start over the Book of Mormon, where we cannot find anything material quite like we can as the Bible as evidence of any accuracy. Of course there is some things FARMS and others say are there, it still lacks the overall correlation we find for the Bible. It is this that I think is what is so effective in the video. This is the message and I do not agree they are masking anything at all.

This is Brant biggest weakness on the review in my opinion. He makes such a big deal about the masking and hiding done by the video's authors that I think it makes readers question the Book of Mormon position. First, they anticipate some bombshell that will knock the video out of the sky. It never comes. Second, I think it unduely focuses on the messengers rather than the message.

Lastly, the review is very honest. I applaud Brant for writing as he did. It is a noble attempt and one that does do a good job at covering the video. It comes off a little flat and probably too long for most attention spans. The review is weak, in that it fails to provide contrary evidence, but instead argues for a possibilty that something is so. Saying it is so, isn't the same as showing it is so.

Zeitgeist

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Nevo:

I think it is problematic to assert that William G. Dever "believes that the Bible is historical

Quite so, as you notice from the quotation. Still, his book What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did they Know it? is a polemic against the extremist position that denies historicity. While he is clear that not everything in the Bible is historical, he is equally clear that there is material that is.

So - does he believe that it is historical, but understand that there are parts that are not? -or -

Does he believe that there are parts that are not historical, but some are.

Kind of the same thing.

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I enjoyed the review, every page of it. I cannot see the film/video as impressing anyone but the very naive, biased and uneducated. Unfortunately, there are a lot of these people around.

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I'm pleased to report that a critique of the Living Hope Ministries film The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon, written by Brant Gardner, materialized on the FARMS web site just a few moments ago in HTML format. (It will, I think, also be put up in the near future in PDF format, and will appear, very shortly, somewhere else, too. When it does, I'll announce it. Or somebody else will.)

http://farms.byu.edu/

This review has now been posted at the FAIR site. (This is the site referenced by Dan, above.) You can find the review here:

http://www.fairlds.org/apol/bible/bible15.html

I commend it to all interested in the topic--not only the topic of simplistic evangelical criticisms of the Book of Mormon, but all those who say (as do those in the video) that there are no evidences consistent with the book.

Well done, Brant.

-Allen

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I think Brant did an excellent job on his review, and covered many points in a scholarly way. But nitpicking about contrary evidence [which I saw in his review i.e. Mesoamerican culture in the Book of Mormon] not being contained in it, is absurd. Unless someone was willing to write an entire book on the video, would it be able to answer every accusation that is brought up, disprove the theories, expose the lies, bring out the misquotations, show inconsistancies, provide sufficient evidence of Hebrew culture with mesoamerican ties etc...would truly be a book, that for someone who will not see any monetary compensation, would be hard to write.

I think the review is great and will help a lot of people.

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Nice review.

Does anyone else feel embarrassed for Tom Murphy? I mean, good heavens, here is a guy who actually has a degree w/ a real job and yet he's prostituting himself to this evangelical ministry by acting like a wooden puppet with their fist stuffed up his butt making his mouth move! Did he really make the "born at Jerusalem" argument?

Could he do anymore damage to his own credibility?

C.I.

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Just read the review, and I just had to post. I am a numismatist and have looked into the "coins" issue in the BOM I think the reviewer did a good job in responding about coins but there is perhaps a little more depth he could have gone into on the subject. This is probably old stuff to him and everyone else so excuse me if I am just rehashing old stuff.

The following is what I have come to understand, feel free to correct me if I am wrong on any points.

Coins weren't developed until 700-600 B.C. and were unknown in Isreal when Nephi left the old world. Money to the inhabitants of the region were weights of metal. There have been recent finds in what would have been phoenicia of sealed bags of silver. the silver contained in these bags consisted of odds and ends of broken jewelery, ornaments, other broken silver items, etc. and the seal on the outside of the bag showed the weight of the silver in the bag. (that information came from an article in "The Numismatist" the magazine of the American Numismatic Association) One would presume that the silver in the bags would either be passed on in financial tranactions and eventually be remelted and turned into other useful silver items. As I understand it the "shekel" in the bible at first was a "weight" of silver and then only later as coins came into common usage in Isreal was the same name applied to a coin. Coinage wasn't developed by the Isrealites only adopted by them from surrounding civilizations. my assumption is that since the Nephite culture wasn't influenced by these other cultures they never developed "coins" but kept the old world tradition of money being specific weights of metal. It says in Alma 11, verse 4 that they altered their reckoning to suit their minds and circumstances so we don't see a "shekel" of silver but rather an "Onti" but we have no idea today of how much weight of silver an onti actually was.

So as the reviewer pointed out "Coin" is never mentioned in the BOM. really this strengthens my testamony of the BOM because in JS day money to him would have been coins. while in the BOM it is weights of silver and gold. JS could not have known this!!!

I hope I made sense and this wasn't a stupid post

sgtbrian

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