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The Voice: Hypostasis As Evidence


David Bokovoy

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Well, couldn't sleep tonight, so I finally wrote up a few thoughts on an issue I've been interested in for a while.

A careful reading of the Book of Mormon continues to amass important evidence in support of its authenticity. One of the religious traditions attested in both biblical and Book of Mormon texts include the use of hypostasis.

The term hypostasis describes â??a quality, epithet, attribute, manifestation or the like of a deity which through a process of personification and differentiation has become a distinct (if not fully independent) divine being in its own right.â? S. Dean McBride, â??The Deuteronomic Name Theologyâ? (PhD. Diss. Harvard University, 1965), 5.

A few well-known examples of biblical hypostasis include the terms "wisdom," "glory," and "word." Though each of these hypostatic expressions appears in the Book of Mormon, one of the most intriguing examples of the convention includes the use of the word â??voice.â? As a relatively unknown attestation of biblical hypostasis, voice has received very little attention.

In 1986, James Charlesworth attempted to rectify this deficiency arguing that Johnâ??s vision in the book of Revelation features a visible, hypostatic voice. â??If the voice was conceived in early Jewish thought and perhaps in early Christian circles as a heavenly being,â? argued Charlesworth, â??then one can legitimately talk about seeing her, or him.â? James H. Charlesworth, â??The Jewish Roots of Christology: The Discovery of the Hypostatic Voice,â? SJT 39 (1986): 23.

In Revelation 2, John seems to rely upon this Jewish tradition:

â??I was in the Spirit on the Lordâ??s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticksâ? (Rev. 2:10-11).

In his analysis, Charlesworth concludes that â??the evidence is impressive, and I am persuaded that before A.D. 100 Jewsâ?¦ believed in the existence of a celestial being they called â??the voiceâ??â?; Ibid. 37.

More recently, biblical scholar Azzan Yadin has argued that though somewhat obscure, the use of â??voiceâ? as hypostasis appear in several Old Testament texts as well. â??There areâ?¦ a number of passages in Ezekiel, Numbers, and the account of the Sinai theophany,â? writes Yadin, â??that suggest the presence of a hypostatic voice.â? Azzan Yadin, â??Qol as Hypostasis in the Hebrew Bible,â? Journal of Biblical Literature 122/4 (2003): 602.

One of the subtle references to a hypostatic voice identified by Yadin includes Numbers 7:89:

â??And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with him, then he heard the voice [of one speaking] unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto himâ? (Num 7:89)

In this passage, I have placed the phrase â??of one speakingâ? that appears in the King James text in brackets since the addition obscures the hypostatic quality of the term voice.

Sensitive to the fact that Numbers 7 does not grammatically present the voice â??of one speakingâ?, but rather â??the voiceâ? itself interacting with Moses, later Jewish commentators proposed:

â??Scripture relates that Moses would enter into the Tent of Meeting and stand there, and the voice descended from highest heavens to between the Cherubs, and he heard the voice speaking to him from withinâ? (Sifre Numbers 58 [Horovitz ed., 55]).

In his important study, Yadin also directs attention to Ezekiel 1:28:

â??As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice [of one] that spakeâ? (Ezek. 1:28).

In view of these Old Testament texts that feature a hypostatic voice, Yadin suggests that â??John of Patmos consciously alludes to key passages in Ezekiel and Daniel and to Num 7:89-8:1 in order to present himself as part of a group of prophets or visionaries that have received revelation from the â??voice.â??â? ; Ibid. 626.

Notwithstanding the subtly of this biblical convention, the Book of Mormon contains several texts that appear to rely upon a hypostatic use of voice.

As one example, Helaman 5 describes the missionary labors of Nephi and Lehi amongst the Lamanites. The account declares that as Nephi and Lehi journeyed from Zarahemla to the land of Nephi, a group of Lamanite soldiers captured the missionaries and cast them into prison.

According to the Book of Mormon narrative, Nephi and Lehi were saved by a voice:

â??And it came to pass that there came a voice as if it were above the cloud of darkness, saying: Repent ye, repent ye, and seek no more to destroy my servants whom I have sent unto you to declare good tidings.

â??And it came to pass when they heard this voice, and beheld that it was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soulâ??

â??And notwithstanding the mildness of the voice, behold the earth shook exceedingly, and the walls of the prison trembled again, as if it were about to tumble to the earth; and behold the cloud of darkness, which had overshadowed them, did not disperseâ??

â??And behold the voice came again, saying: Repent ye, repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand; and seek no more to destroy my servants. And it came to pass that the earth shook again, and the walls trembled.

â??And also again the third time the voice came, and did speak unto them marvelous words which cannot be uttered by man; and the walls did tremble again, and the earth shook as if it were about to divide asunderâ? (Hel. 5:29-33).

Notice that the Book of Mormon presents the voice as an active entity. The voice "came above the cloud of darkness," and more significantly, the voice "did speak."

Recognizing the power of God, a man by the name of Aminadab, who the text declares was a Nephite that â??had once belonged to the church of God but had dissented from themâ? declared that all those present should repent and cry unto the voice:

â??And Aminadab said unto them: You must repent and cry unto the voice, even until ye shall have faith in Christ, who was taught unto you by Alma, and Amulek, and Zeezrom; and when ye shall do this, the cloud of darkness shall be removed from overshadowing youâ? (Hel. 5:41)

While the notion of crying to a personified â??voiceâ? might seem a bit awkward by western standards (as illustrated by the King James additions of phrases such as â??of one speakingâ?) the hypostatic voice served an important role in the religious traditions of ancient Israel.

This observation provides evidence that the Book of Mormon appears much more familiar with the subtleties of biblical conventions than most contemporary readers.

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David:

Would the voice heard by the Nephites following the destruction that

accompanied the death of Christ (3 Nephi 9, 10, 11) be another example?

This event has always intrigued me:

"...while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice

as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they

understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice,

neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a

small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, inasmuch that

there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did

pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn...again

they heard the voice, and they understood it not. And again the third time

they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes

were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards

heaven, from whence the sound came. And behold the third time they did

understand the voice which they heard... 3 Nephi 11:3-6

Some anti-Mormons scoff at the "burning in the bosom," but

this is a profound manifestation upon which many Latter-day Saints base their

testimony. It does indeed pierce to the very soul. I believe this is the most

intimate experience a human being can have...the voice that pierces to

the soul.

Bernard

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Hello Bernard,

I believe that the voice in 3 Nephi 11 certainly reflects this tradition, but I donâ??t see the voice as an independent, active entity in the same way in which it appears to operate in Helaman 5.

I do believe, however, that the repetition of the word voice in these verses reflects the biblical use of a leitwort:

Psalm 29:

Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength.

Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters.

The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.

He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.

The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire.

The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.

The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever.

The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.

If I remember correctly, I wrote about this aspect of the word â??voiceâ? in a little book that--based upon sales-- I believe only my mother and Stephen Ricks have ever read.

Regards,

--DB

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Ah, getting a little excited about Christmas and the presents?

I suppose so, since 12:12 AM Utah time is 2:12 AM my time. Truth be told, Iâ??m so much of a kid that I think I may in fact be more excited for what awaits my four children on Christmas morning than they are.

Besides, I already got my presents: all three volumes of the Context of Scripture series from Brill-- IN HARDBACK!!

I really have wanted these books for years.

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David:

As usual, brilliance from you. I was reading Margaret Barker the other day, and visions of hypostasis danced in my head, actually. I keep "geeking out" on the amazing ANE correlations that you are finding, as well as some of the others I'm picking up on while reading others (Barker, etc.).

Anyway, not much to contribute, except a vote of appreciation for such thought-provoking reading.

By the way, are you accepting PM's now? I'd like to send you some material I've been reading about that I thought you might be interested in concerning the Divine Council, etc. If it's rubbish to your academic causes, oh well. I'd sleep better knowing I shared it with you.

Let me know.

Thanks for shedding some more light on our book from the dust,

Skip

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This is very interesting, because I'm sure many of us have heard that "still small voice" which spoke to us and which we tried to ignore but couldn't.

But I was also reminded of Frank Herbert's Dune where Muad Dib used the Voice to control people and was able to kill with a his voice.

I also think of a time when President Hinckley was speaking at the dedication of the Omaha temple and he could barely speak and was very hoarse... until he began the dedicatory prayer. As soon as he began his voice was loud and strong as if he were not speaking with his own voice.

I also thought how a mother is able to calm a small child's fear with her soft voice. It matters not what she says but it is the tone. This is also why mothers are encouraged to speak to their infants even when they can't understand the words. They do understand the tone.

I'm not sure if this is the same thing you are alluding to, but it certainly illustrates the power of the Voice whether we are relating it to God or to our own ability to influence people.

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Hello Skip,

By the way, are you accepting PM's now?

Absolutely, I hadnâ??t realized that it was full there for a while. Sorry I missed you.

I'm not sure if this is the same thing you are alluding to, but it certainly illustrates the power of the Voice whether we are relating it to God or to our own ability to influence people.

Thanks Deborah for reminding us of a more spiritual side to the topic. I must admit that I often get so caught up in the ancient textual side of things that I lose track of what ultimately may be the most significant side of the issue.

Warm regards,

--David

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Hi David,

I fail to see how this is a "proof" for the BoM, it seems to be a rabbit trail. When the Bible code thing was going strong, TV preachers were messing with the Hebrew with computers and came up with allot of "codes", Paul and Jan Crouch found there names in the OT, along with TBN.

The BOM was supposed to be written in reformed Egyptian, not Hebrew, so with that in mind any word play is impossible unless you know the language, or if you are going to speculate with the translation as being literal then you have to be consistent, i.e. North will mean North, steel will mean steel, and voice would have to have that same implication.

There was a guy here awhile back that was using a strongs to define BoM words, this would be along the same lines, and this is just for the premise stage of your thoughts, not to mention the actual theory.

Small voices are a tricky thing, I have had them, they testified to Both my belief in the LDS faith and the disbelief of that same faith, my old Jehovah witness neighbor had this same testimony? So the question is what do you test your small voice to? What is the bench mark?

A friend of mine just wrote a book on her journey out of Mormonism, putting the theology aside she writes of this same topic. It's (" A Mormons Unexpected Journey, Finding the Grace I Never Knew...vol 1,Winepress pub). E-mail me your mailing address and I'll send you a copy, it's also at Amazon.

Surf has been real big out here, my son went out the other day and got destroyed, and it was a legit 8 to 10 at the Oceanside jetty.

I pray a very merry Christmas for you and yours,

Mark

John 1:12

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Hello Mark,

I fail to see how this is a "proof" for the BoM, it seems to be a rabbit trail.

Thanks for sharing your opinion. Iâ??m curious, can you provide any reasons whatsoever to sustain your assessment other than your personal contempt for the Book of Mormon.

When the Bible code thing was going strong, TV preachers were messing with the Hebrew with computers and came up with allot of "codes", Paul and Jan Crouch found there names in the OT, along with TBN.

I am a long time opponent of the Bible Code scandal. This thread has nothing whatsoever to do with encrypted messages.

The BOM was supposed to be written in reformed Egyptian, not Hebrew, so with that in mind any word play is impossible unless you know the language, or if you are going to speculate with the translation as being literal then you have to be consistent, i.e. North will mean North, steel will mean steel, and voice would have to have that same implication.

Clearly you have had little to no experience with the issue of determining word play in ancient translated sources. But regardless, this thread has nothing whatsoever to do with Hebrew world plays.

There was a guy here awhile back that was using a strongs to define BoM words, this would be along the same lines, and this is just for the premise stage of your thoughts, not to mention the actual theory.

I must admit you lost me here.

A friend of mine just wrote a book on her journey out of Mormonism, putting the theology aside she writes of this same topic. It's (" A Mormons Unexpected Journey, Finding the Grace I Never Knew...vol 1,Winepress pub). E-mail me your mailing address and I'll send you a copy, it's also at Amazon.

Thanks for the kind offer, I know it comes from the best places of your heart, but to be quite frank, if itâ??s anything at all like the letter you posted a while back, Iâ??m afraid I would find his or her ignorance of LDS theology and the Bible far too depressing.

As Iâ??ve said before, I can relate intellectually to the journey from Mormonism to agnosticism, but given everything we now know about gods, councils, theomorphic humans, etc. running throughout the Bible, I simply canâ??t understand how anyone who has ever studied these issues even in brief could ever leave Mormonism for another Christian sect.

No offense.

I pray a very merry Christmas for you and yours,

Same to you Mark.

Happiness and peace from you friend in Boston,

--David

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I believe that 'voice' to be very important to the lds understanding of spirituality. Where would we all be without that still, small voice that penetrates the essence of our beings? The burning sensation has been mocked and kicked by the anti and the postmos. They seem to enjoy giving such a burning the name 'warm fuzzies'. That is unfortunate and a mockery of what they actually felt.

In the end, the voice and the burning give life its inner core. Not all experience the burning sensation but many experience the voice. And I might had that this 'voice' is not just for the lds but also for all those who worship god and respect his will and his word. And even if one does not respect god's word, the voice can still be there in whispers...guiding the person to holiness or righteousness, if that person will listen.

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My first impression is that David is thinking too hard here. With sufficient effort, a lot more can be made of things than the things really support.

I think it's clear that there is this idea that the Book of Mormon inherited that it will be difficult for people to actually see God. So, if God is to speak to someone, and they don't see him, their experience will be to hear a voice. The Brother of Jared heard a voice, and eventually through his faith, he saw the originator of that voice, Jesus. I don't think there was anything magical or mystical about the voice. It was Jesus's voice, and the reason that was the focus of the description of their interaction was on the voice was that the BoJared didn't see Jesus until later.

When John the Baptist baptised Jesus in the river, what did they experience from God? His voice. Why the focus on the voice only? Because God didn't appear to them, he only caused them to hear what he said, therefore, the voice was all there was to talk about.

I think that every instance in the scriptures where there's this voice that's heard from heaven, that David is talking about, I think it's way overplayed to attribute to this word "voice" any kind of meaning other than exactly what it says: the being uttering the words is usually not seen, and all the person experiences is the sound of that being's speech, and hence the "voice" comes into play.

How did Moses experience God on Sinai? As a voice coming from a burning bush. Why a voice only? Because God didn't appear to him in person, so all Moses got was the spoken word, via the voice. Why did Moses experience God as a voice from the Ark sitting in the Holy of Holies? Because God didn't appear to him, so all he got was God's voice speaking to him. Were either of these examples a manifestation of some distinct being from Heaven known as "the Voice"? No, and I think it's absurd to say they were. The "voice" in each of these cases was the audible speech of God, experienced by people who did not see the substance of God's body, because the body was not revealed to them or made visible to them.

I do not believe that the use of the "voice" in the Book of Mormon is proof that Joseph Smith was inspired, because of the existence of this specialized jargon concept of "voice" that the scholars have identified in the Bible, that Joseph couldn't have known about, but which he providently used in the Book of Mormon.

I think what happened instead is that Joseph noticed a trend in the Bible of heavenly beings not making themselves visible to the person they are speaking to, or of only being visible through something like a burning bush or whatever, and Joseph Smith copied that idea into the Book of Mormon, so that there are places in the Book of Mormon where a person is interacting with a "voice" rather than the whole visual/tactile/audio experience of interacting with someone who was literally there in person, visible and touchable, etc. This was extended to things like the BoM as a "voice from the dust" as well.

I do not buy into the notion that ancient Hebrews recognized the existence of a distinct heavenly being known as "the voice". I believe ancient Hebrews believed that they would usually not see God or his angels, but rather hear their speech, and that this speech was, of course, experienced as "a voice", just like when my wife yells to me from across the house to come to dinner. It's just a voice, it's not a separate being. I only heard her voice because she didn't feel like crossing the house and coming into my office to tell me in person.

I recognize that I haven't spent thousands of hours figuring out various ways of discovering new "meaning" in the words of scripture as David has, so please excuse my "unwashed masses" layman's view and terminology, but I honestly think this "voice" hypostasis as evidence thing is really just seeing phantoms or mirages.

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David, excellent thoughts as usual.

Unfortunately, some people mistake evidences for proof. There is NO way to prove God exists, but we can show evidences. Recently, in Guideposts (a Christian magazine), I read where one of the team leads on the Human Genome project found his faith in God. Evidences from his own work, as well as help from Christians, helped him focus his questioning mind around the concept of God. while he cannot prove God's existence, it doesn't matter to him, because he is willing to see Him in every gene and chromosome.

So it is with the Book of Mormon. It is too easy to wave away one interesting thought or evidence, as you've provided. But unbelievers are not willing to combine the entire mountain of evidences together for consideration, otherwise they too would be impressed by each evidence as shared.

As for those who leave the LDS Church for other Christian churches, it is always an emotion-based issue. They have not understood LDS teachings; usually overstressed by trying to save themselves by keeping all commandments and being perfect in their hometeaching and temple attendance. They are like the Pharisees who have kept the tithes, but missed the weightier things of Christ's law. So, when they are invited to just believe and be saved, they find they feel a portion of the Spirit without the "Jewish guilt" that they have placed upon themselves as Mormons. Also, the goal is not as lofty, so they do not have to carry as large a cross.

But if they really knew the Bible, they would be astonished at what things the ancient Jews and Christians believed, and how their current version is so very different. They would either have to regain a witness of Mormonism, which ties into those ancient beliefs, or they would have to forsake the ancient Biblical forms and teachings. Of course, they do the latter, because it means they no longer require any attachment to ancient things, but create a new individual religion within oneself. With Mormonism, the kingdom IS within us, but it is also an external kingdom that God has set up, a stone cut out of the mountain without hands.

How many Christians do you suppose have read Barker, or other scholars that have discussed issues like God's wife/consort, deification, and etc? The majority are happy to read only Guideposts, which gives them a modern view of things, and totally neglects the ancient aspects. Mormonism offers us both.

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As Iâ??ve said before, I can relate intellectually to the journey from Mormonism to agnosticism, but given everything we now know about gods, councils, theomorphic humans, etc. running throughout the Bible, I simply canâ??t understand how anyone who has ever studied these issues even in brief could ever leave Mormonism for another Christian sect.

This goes back to the thread on milk before meat. Basically one is throwing out the meat of maturity and going back to the milk of infancy. How do you throw out additional doctrine and then hope to fill the void?

rameumpton, I think you made some good points on why people do this. I love that our doctrine doesn't cause us to dismiss the Old Testament as easily as some of the other sects do. The OT is powerful. Christ came to fulfill the law, not to diminish it, which is exactly what many who claim to be his followers try to do.

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David,

A careful reading of the Book of Mormon continues to amass important evidence in support of its authenticity. One of the religious traditions attested in both biblical and Book of Mormon texts include the use of hypostasis.

Certainly, with such scant and ambiguous evidence you can't say--to paraphrase Charlesworth--"the evidence is impressive, and I am persuaded that before A.D. 100 Nephites�� believed in the existence of a celestial being they called 'the voice'".

The BOM is full of bad grammar and awkward phrasing due to its use of the passive voice and imitation KJV style, so why do you find this one significant? How else is the text to describe a voice coming out of a cloud?

You want to read "the voice came, and did speak" as if the voice is an entity coming and then speaking. This is hardly the only reading, or even the most likely reading. The text says "there came a voice as if it were above the cloud of darkness" (5:29). Thereafter it is implied. E.g., "the voice came [out of the cloud], and did speak". Do you imagine the personified voice coming, leaving, coming, leaving, coming?

Again, you want to read "cry unto the voice" as if the voice was an entity separate from God, rather than a command to pray in the direction of the voice. The text implies that the voice was God's, who was in the cloud.

36. And he beheld that they did lift their eyes to heaven; and they were in the attitude as if talking or lifting their voices to some being whom they beheld. ...

42. And it came to pass that they all did begin to cry unto the voice of him who had shaken the earth ...

Do you really think from this one instance of the voice coming out of a cloud that you have shown that the Nephites believed the voice was itself "a distinct (if not fully independent) divine being in its own right"? I don't see "the voice as an independent, active entity" operating in Helaman 5. But I do see some awkward wording and wishful reading.

I wonder what Charlesworh would say about these passages:

D&C 76:23

23 For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father--

Where did this voice come from?

D&C 76:30

30 And we saw a vision of the sufferings of those with whom he made war and overcame, for thus came the voice of the Lord unto us:

There's that phrase describing the voice coming.

D&C 84:52

52 And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me.

How does one receive a voice?

D&C 137:7

7 Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: ...

Voice of an unseen God can "come" without there being any implication that the voice is "an independent, active entity".

I therefore find your conclusion that

"This observation provides evidence that the Book of Mormon appears much more familiar with the subtleties of biblical conventions than most contemporary readers."

hasty and unimpressive.

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Hello Sethbag,

Thanks for your consideration. Even if I donâ??t agree, I really do appreciate a thoughtful critique.

My first impression is that David is thinking too hard here.

Iâ??ve been guilty of this mistake before. It's always possible.

With sufficient effort, a lot more can be made of things than the things really support.

Finding examples of evidence like the one featured in this thread really doesnâ??t require much effort. The Book of Mormon is chalked full of such things. The problem isn't finding the links; itâ??s finding the time and motivation to actually write them up.

I think it's clear that there is this idea that the Book of Mormon inherited that it will be difficult for people to actually see God.

I agree.

So, if God is to speak to someone, and they don't see him, their experience will be to hear a voice.

Or a prophet, an angel, or a dream.

The Brother of Jared heard a voice, and eventually through his faith, he saw the originator of that voice, Jesus. I don't think there was anything magical or mystical about the voice. It was Jesus's voice, and the reason that was the focus of the description of their interaction was on the voice was that the BoJared didn't see Jesus until later.

True enough.

When John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the river, what did they experience from God? His voice. Why the focus on the voice only? Because God didn't appear to them, he only caused them to hear what he said, therefore, the voice was all there was to talk about.

Ah, you see, but thereâ??s a major difference between hearing Godâ??s voiceâ??as described in Jesusâ?? baptism and seeing Godâ??s voiceâ??as described in Johnâ??s vision, etc.

The moment the voice appears personified in a revelatory text as an entity that someone sees, or as a force that speaks, or something that someone should call to, etc., the voice has entered the realm of hypostasis.

I think that every instance in the scriptures where there's this voice that's heard from heaven, that David is talking about, I think it's way overplayed to attribute to this word "voice" any kind of meaning other than exactly what it says:

And what if the text describes the voice speaking, or as an entity to which someone should direct a cry?

I do not believe that the use of the "voice" in the Book of Mormon is proof that Joseph Smith was inspired, because of the existence of this specialized jargon concept of "voice" that the scholars have identified in the Bible, that Joseph couldn't have known about, but which he providently used in the Book of Mormon.

I think what happened instead is that Joseph noticed a trend in the Bible of heavenly beings not making themselves visible to the person they are speaking to, or of only being visible through something like a burning bush or whatever, and Joseph Smith copied that idea into the Book of Mormon, so that there are places in the Book of Mormon where a person is interacting with a "voice" rather than the whole visual/tactile/audio experience of interacting with someone who was literally there in person, visible and touchable, etc. This was extended to things like the BoM as a "voice from the dust" as well.

A nice illustration that as a messenger from God, Moroni becomes the hypostatic â??voice from the dust.â?

I do not buy into the notion that ancient Hebrews recognized the existence of a distinct heavenly being known as "the voice".

As illustrated, several prominent biblical scholars disagree with you. Of course there really exists quite a bit more support for their position than I presented. Azzan Yadin, for example, devotes quite a bit of effort to the fact that the hypostatic voice in the Hebrew Bible frequently appears with a hitpaâ??el participle that denotes a type of reflexive connotation in the passages.

Granted, I didnâ??t give you everything.

In presenting an essay such as this, my goal is not to provide a detailed summary explaining all of the reasons that these scholars recognize the attestation of the hypostatic voice in the Bible. Instead, I thought it would be fun to illustrate what happens when this scholarly view is applied to the Book of Mormon.

I believe ancient Hebrews believed that they would usually not see God or his angels, but rather hear their speech, and that this speech was, of course, experienced as "a voice", just like when my wife yells to me from across the house to come, to dinner.

In reality, there are actually many more references in ancient biblical and Near Eastern revelatory sources to manifestations via dreams, visions, and heavenly beings than encounters with a voice.

I recognize that I haven't spent thousands of hours figuring out various ways of discovering new "meaning" in the words of scripture as David has, so please excuse my "unwashed masses" layman's view and terminology, but I honestly think this "voice" hypostasis as evidence thing is really just seeing phantoms or mirages.

Again, my goal with this sort of essay is not to discover â??new meaning,â? but rather apply scholarly observations that have passed through the all-important academic peer-review to the Book of Mormon.

As illustrated in this thread, itâ??s fun to see what happens when we do.

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Hi David,

The point of my last post to you David is that your grasping at straws in a isogenical way, your taking a text and trying to prove it authenic by inflecting preconceived thought into it, just like the TV preachers did. If they had pulled a prophesy out of the Bible by useing a Bible code then that would be a proof, but going back and finding something to fit is not impressive. I could find the word "voice" in a book like Alice in Wonderland of the Lord of the Rings and apply the same methods you are losing. The language of Mordor being a ancient langauge would certainly apply and be proof of authenticity according to your logic. It's kind of like your Elyon statements, you say they it refers to a different God other than Yahweh in Deut. yet ignor or at the least fail to address that it refers to Israel in a few chapters before yyour proof text, let alone address that eloyon is also refered to a basket elsewhere in the Bible. David your trying so hard to make Mormonism work your losing touch with the context of the Bible it's self, I understand though, it's the only way one can keep a grip, it's a fine line your towing and I pray you will take a step back and evaluate your faith. Liberal theology and Mormonism is a dangerous mix. Your next quote kind of says that...

As Iâ??ve said before, I can relate intellectually to the journey from Mormonism to agnosticism, but given everything we now know about gods, councils, theomorphic humans, etc. running throughout the Bible, I simply canâ??t understand how anyone who has ever studied these issues even in brief could ever leave Mormonism for another Christian sect.

Just think about how many questions you haved dodged, like the elyon, who the gods where and how they apply to the LDS law of eternal progression, the theme that the bible does speak about pagan gods yet corrects this from Genesis on that they wre just man made idol made by man.

David Christianity is a personal relationship with one and God, it's not about all these theological rabbit rails going absolutly nowhere. Look at what is going on in the middle east, the Bible testified that this would happen, europe has got one economy now, there are blue prints for the Temple..thats real, thats tangible, digging through the BoM and trying to prove it by saying the word "voice" speak of it authenticity is stretching and showing.

Try expounding on what is provable about the Bible and it's message, and pump it up here, it's almost like it is taboo to do that.

Sorry for preaching, but to say that Voice is a proof of the BoM is just stretching.

Mark

John 1;12

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Hello Dan,

Certainly, with such scant and ambiguous evidence you can't say--to paraphrase Charlesworth--"the evidence is impressive, and I am persuaded that before A.D. 100 Nephites�� believed in the existence of a celestial being they called 'the voice'".

No, of course not. Weâ??re dealing with a translated source that provides but a brief glimpse into the religious views of the Nephites before A.D. 100 as compared to the plethora of diverse sources, many of which appear in the original source language, available for understanding the perspectives held by Jews living in Jerusalem ca. 100 A.D.

True enough, the evidence is sparse.

In my opinion, however, this scarcity in quantity does not render the evidence we do have as unimpressive.

The BOM is full of bad grammar and awkward phrasing due to its use of the passive voice and imitation KJV style, so why do you find this one significant?

Because in presenting the voice as an active entity that "came above the cloud of darkness," "did speak," and a personified being to whom people should â??cry,â? the Book of Mormon reflects a subtle biblical nuance that most contemporary readers tend to overlook.

How else is the text to describe a voice coming out of a cloud?

From a biblical perspective, the moment a voice comes out of cloud it enters the realm of hypostasis. I admit that when broken up individually, the evidence proves less impressive. It's the whole picture presented in Helaman 5 that needs to be considered.

In addition, however, the mere reference to a cloud in this specific revelatory context together with a personified voice proves interesting in view of the fact that clouds themselves appear as hypostatic divinities in the Hebrew Bible.

Y

ou want to read "the voice came, and did speak" as if the voice is an entity coming and then speaking. This is hardly the only reading, or even the most likely reading.

But it is a possible reading, and in view of the fact that Aminadab later instructs the people to â??cry unto the voice,â? contrary to your suggestion, it actually seems quite probable.

The text says "there came a voice as if it were above the cloud of darkness" (5:29). Thereafter it is implied. E.g., "the voice came [out of the cloud], and did speak". Do you imagine the personified voice coming, leaving, coming, leaving, coming?

No.

The text implies that the voice was God's, who was in the cloud.

Of course the voice was the voice of God. This does not deny the fact that the text presents a personified voice that did speak.

Do you really think from this one instance of the voice coming out of a cloud that you have shown that the Nephites believed the voice was itself "a distinct (if not fully independent) divine being in its own right"?

No. I donâ??t have enough evidence to make that grandiose a claim.

D&C 76:23

Simply hearing a voice is hardly an example of hypostasis.

D&C 76:30

A better example, but we would still need a few more examples of personification like those that appear in Helaman 5.

D&C 84:52

This is perhaps your strongest example, but from my perspective, we would still need more than one reference to personification in order to establish a convincing example of hypostasis like the one witnessed in Helaman 5.

D&C 137:7

Again, the voice is clearing â??sayingâ? but are people crying to it?

I therefore find your conclusionâ?¦ hasty and unimpressive.

But Dan, when have you ever found any evidence supporting the antiquity of the Book of Mormon impressive?

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Likewise, I'm sure.

Glad to see you didnâ??t take offense. I certainly didnâ??t mean any. But of course I am willing to grant the existence of historical anachronisms. Itâ??s just that given my view of the Book of Mormon, theyâ??re not that relevant.

But I've seen you do better!

Iâ??m sure thatâ??s true.

Not that everything worthy of note has to be monumental. It's an astute observation, but its significance is certainly debatable.

Everything is open to debate. And as always, I appreciate your keen ability to raise important questions.

You always present the greatest challenge. Thanks for the help you provide in developing my views.

P.S. I hope you put lights up again this year.

Either way,

Merry Christmas,

--David

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I believe Mr. Vogel has made an excellent point.

Either the Book of Mormon is of ancient origin or Joseph Smith wrote it. The existence of â??the voiceâ? passages can be explained quite easily since they also exist in Smithâ??s other writings which do not claim ancient provenance.

The parallel seems superficial at best.

One might as well point out how the Book of Mormon often refers to divinity called God. This is also common in most ancient scripture, but I would hesitate to call this â??evidenceâ? of any significance.

And I am not sure it is safe to suggest that the Book of Mormon peoples would have viewed the voice of God as a separate entity from God himself. There is no indication of this whatsoever, but there needs to be before valid parallels exist.

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Hello Sethbag,

Thanks for your consideration. Even if I donâ??t agree, I really do appreciate a thoughtful critique.

And thank you for your polite reply to my critique.

And what if the text describes the voice speaking, or as an entity to which someone should direct a cry?

When you're on an Army base, at 5 pm or so each day they'll have a lowering of the flag ceremony accompanied by the National Anthem. If you're within sight of the flag, you are required to stop, face the flag, and salute, until it concludes. What do you do if you're out of sight of the flag? On an Army base, you are required to face in the direction the music is coming from. As Dan Vogel mentioned earlier, if you don't see someone, but you hear their voice, and you wish to address a comment or question to the person who originated that voice, it is only natural to face in the direction from which you hear the voice. This does not turn that voice into the hypostatic concept of voice as an independent entity that you speak of. It just means that is your best guess of where the person is, just as on an Army base, the direction from which one hears the National Anthem is the best guess of the direction towards the flag, whose lowering that music accompanies.

Granted, I didnâ??t give you everything.

I don't know all the things you've read about this. I'm sure you've read hundreds of times as much as I have about this, possibly thousands. It may be that such a concept is more defensible in regard to the Bible; I don't know, and I really haven't got anything to say about it. But from the snapshot you gave of the concept, and its application to the Book of Mormon, I'm just not seeing it.

Again, my goal with this sort of essay is not to discover â??new meaning,â? but rather apply scholarly observations that have passed through the all-important academic peer-review to the Book of Mormon.

As illustrated in this thread, itâ??s fun to see what happens when we do.

What would be even more interesting than seeing what happens on the MAD board when you do, is to see what would happen if you could get the same Biblical scholars who originated the concept to consider the Book of Mormon and see if they agree with you on the application of this principle.

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Hello Dartagnan,

I believe Mr. Vogel has made an excellent point.

I believe that Brother Vogel always makes excellent points.

The existence of â??the voiceâ? passages can be explained quite easily since they also exist in Smithâ??s other writings which do not claim ancient provenance.

Theyâ??re not the same.

Iâ??m not suggesting that the term â??voiceâ? when applied to a revelatory context immediately denotes ancient origin. Clearly the concept of hearing voices is not in and of itself somehow uniquely ancient, nor intrinsically biblical.

A person can claim to hear voices or even the voice of God without personifying voice as a quasi-independent divine being. The difference is subtle, albeit signficant.

The parallel seems superficial at best.

Ancient Israelites personified voice in a way that allowed the term to standâ??even if only from a literary perspectiveâ??as God himself interacting with human beings.

In view of this biblical precedent, if Helaman 5 had nothing more than the statement, â??You must repent and cry unto the voice,â? the expression would provide an intriguing parallel with a subtle Israelite tradition.

However, in addition to this statement, the same chapter tells the story of two men saved by a voice that "came above the cloud of darkness," and like a human being "did speak."

Iâ??m not claiming that this observation proves that the Book of Mormon is ancient. We canâ??t overlook the possibility that since voices often appear in revelatory contexts, Joseph simply got lucky.

But it really is quite clear to me that though related, the examples Dan provided from the Doctrine and Covenants are different from the hypostasis that appears in Helaman 5.

One might as well point out how the Book of Mormon often refers to divinity called God. This is also common in most ancient scripture, but I would hesitate to call this â??evidenceâ? of any significance.

Clearly youâ??re missing the point.

And I am not sure it is safe to suggest that the Book of Mormon peoples would have viewed the voice of God as a separate entity from God himself. There is no indication of this whatsoever, but there needs to be before valid parallels exist.

Iâ??m not convinced that Israelites actually viewed the â??voiceâ? as a completely separate entity from God himself. Certain biblical authors may have held this belief, but regardless, the fact remains that we have an extremely subtle tradition in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon in which voice appears personified as deity himself.

Having studied the biblical passages in question, I for one believe that the parallel seems more than superficial at best.

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