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The "adieu" Argument


Pahoran

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One of a crop of hardy annuals is the oft-recycled "Adieu" argument. The gist of it goes something like this:

"The use of the French word 'adieu' in Jacob 7:27 is anachronistic. It is one of those nuances which common sense should tell a person that the BoM is not what it claims to be."

I find it hard to take this argument seriously. How can it be "anachronistic" to use a word, in an English translation, that has been part of the English language for over 600 years? It is not the case, as in some of the "dumb and dumber" versions of this argument, that the word purports to come from reformed Egyptian. It is a translated word and nothing else.

What, exactly, is wrong with it?

Does anyone have the courage to show that anything is wrong with it?

Regards,

Pahoran

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Some people have the notion that "adieu" is a French word that is only

used by uppity people who want to show off. I suppose that could be

true today; however, in Joseph Smith's time it was a common English

word used by everyone from Solomon Spaulding to George Washington.

It is one of the silliest arguments against the validity of the BoM. I take

that back. It is the silliest argument.

Bernard

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Off the top of my head, I think it competes with the 4,000 some odd changes argument as the most silly argument against the BoM. Wait, what about a ringer it seems I saw once "quoting" BY as saying that he didn't think the Church was true. When you go and read to actual quote he goes on to say that he knows it's true. :P

Anyway, regarding the adieu argument . . . I remember as a teenager/early 20s being a bit troubled by it and then without looking elsewhere, except perhaps prayer, I thought about it and realized that it was a translation issue, i.e., whatever the word was in Reformed Egyptian translated to have the same meaning/idea/concept as adieu.

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Here is the latest incarnation of this argument. As an act of mercy to the critic who wrote the below, he may remain nameless, unless he wants to step forward:

Starts====>It is sometimes amusing how Mormon apologists attempt to explain some of the anachronistic nuances in the Book of Mormon, which common sense should tell a person that the BoM is not what it claims to be. One of those is the use of the French word adieu in Jacob 7:27. The verse reads as follows:

And I, Jacob, saw that I must soon go down to my grave; wherefore, I said unto my son Enos: Take these plates. And I told him the things which my brother Nephi had commanded me, and he promised obedience unto the commands. And I make an end of my writing upon these plates, which writing has been small; and to the reader I bid farewell, hoping that many of my brethren may read my words. Brethren, adieu.

In Mopologist Stephen Gibson's book One-Minute Answers to pro-Christian Questions he offers the following explanation as the rationale for using such a word, after being asked "How could Book of Mormon writer Jacob, who lived about 500 B.C., use French word "adieu" (Jacob 7:27) when the French language wasn't even developed until A.D. 1500?" Gibson answers,

Those who ask this question must either forget that the Book of Mormon (and for that matter, the Bible) is a translation from another language, or perhaps they don't realize that a translator uses the words in his vocabulary which he feels will best portray the meaning of the original writer's or speaker's thought to current readers.

Strictly speaking, no words in the Book of Mormon are Jacob's words, or the words of any other prophet of that period. "Adieu" was probably the best equivalent of Jacob's words of which Joseph Smith was aware. So, whether it is "adieu" or "constraineth" or "abomination," they are modern translations of ancient words.â??p. 17

The more I thought about what Gibson is saying, the more fallacious it became; especially the comment that "adieu" was Joseph Smith's "best equivalent" that he could think of to translate the mysteriously missing Reformed Egyptian word that ended up becoming "adieu." Why? Because all the French word "adieu" means is "goodbye," or "farewell" (Oxford Hachette French Dictionary, 3rd ed., 12). Gibson nearly plagiarizes Daniel Ludow who supposedly found a Hebrew word "that means the same or nearly the same as "Adieu," yet neither are specific as to where in the Hebrew this word is found. Because a search for "Lehitra'ot" comes up missing in the Hebrew Bible. Maybe Gibson and Ludlow mean the Reformed Egyptian Hebrew?

Anyway, was the "adieu" really Joseph Smith's best translation option? Hardly. For in 2 Nephi 33:13-14, the book preceding Jacob in the BoM, he uses the word "farewell." In fact, in the Book of Jacob itself, chapter 6, verse 13, one chapter before the infamous "adieu" word appears, Joseph (Jacob :P) says, "Finally, I bid you farewell, until I shall meet you before the pleasing bar of Godâ?¦" Moreover in the very same verse as the word "adieu" appears, Jacob 7:27, Joseph uses the word farewell. Other references to "farewell" include Alma 37:47; 38:15; Ether 12:38; Moroni 8:30; 10:34. Interestingly, "adieu" only appears once throughout the whole of the BoM.

IMO, the whole attempt by Mormon to find a plausible explanation for this anachronistic use of language is totally flawed. Chalking it up to translator word use and Hebrew parallels is purely fanciful at best. What happened is that old Joe Smith probably found himself a new word that he wanted to use, to maybe add a little flavor to an otherwise dull book, and ended up creating a problem that furthered proved he was engaged in a ruse. If anyone can come up with a better conclusion, then I'm all ears. But this, once again, is another reason why the BoM is not what Mormons claim it to be, nor is Mormonism either.<====Ends

A few observations:

What is a ""Mopologist?" Is this the critic's notion of scholarly writing?

I am unable to find "Stephen Gibson's book One-Minute Answers to pro-Christian Questions." I am, however, able to find a book by that author, entitled One-Minute Answers to anti-Mormon Questions. Thus, we find two falsehoods in one: the critic has misrepresented the title, and he has falsely equated anti-Mormon with pro-Christian, when in fact these two terms are antonyms.

That said, to give credit where it is due, this attempt to dress up an embarrassingly naked argument has made it at least marginally more respectable than it was formerly. Gone is the really idiotic "Did Jacob speak French?" of the earlier incarnations. Instead, the argument boils down to "I don't think he should have used that word."

And how compelling is that, really?

Our critic accuses:

Gibson nearly plagiarizes Daniel Ludow who supposedly found a Hebrew word "that means the same or nearly the same as "Adieu," yet neither are specific as to where in the Hebrew this word is found. Because a search for "Lehitra'ot" comes up missing in the Hebrew Bible. Maybe Gibson and Ludlow mean the Reformed Egyptian Hebrew?

What does "nearly plagiarizes" mean? A cursory glance at the text in question shows that no such plagiarism, or "nearly" plagiarism, occurs: Gibson quotes Ludlow, giving full credit and proper citation. Our critic's eagerness to find fault has led him to make a rather brazen false accusation.

The fact that "adieu" appears only once in The Book of Mormon is not evidence of anything. There are other words that appear only once, but the others don't seem to be so exotic to someone of such limited vocabulary as those who make merry over "adieu." There are a number of words that appear only once in the Bible, too. Does that mean that it is "is not what Mormons claim it to be" either?

To anticipate: someone will probably accuse me of thus "attacking the Bible." That, too, will be a false accusation. It is an attack upon an absurd argument, nothing more. I am perfectly comfortable with the Bible containing words that appear only once; that it contains such words does not in any way cast doubt upon its authenticity.

And the same goes for The Book of Mormon.

Regards,

Pahoran

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Certainly â??adieuâ? is anachronistic and was in no way a common word in 19th century America. The following periodicals from the 19th century must certainly also be anachronistic as well (with a nod to Uncle Dale for making these available on his site).

------------

This is from the Christian Register and Boston Observer, Saturday, August 22, 1840, Vol. XIX No. 34 -- This is a Boston newspaper that was "Devoted to Unitarian Christianity, Sound Morals, Literature and News"

They are making many proselytes in the Southern States, and in England, as well as in the West. Truth is mighty! -- So is error! May 'the truth as it is in Jesus' prevail, by whatever name it goes. Adieu,

Truly yours, W. P. H.

This is from The Mormon, Saturday, July 12, 1856, Vol. II -- Although this is an LDS "friendly" periodical, it was nonetheless circulated to the general populous:

They were then permitted to bid adieu to their mother and families, and were told that "to-morrow they die at 9 o'clock," from which fate they were providentially saved through the interference of the gallant General Doniphan, who declared to Major General Lucas, "It is cool blooded murder; and if you execute them I will hold you responsible before an earthly tribunal.

This is from the Voree Herald, April,1846, Vol.I. No. 4 -- published in "Voree, W. T.", I believe this was one of James Strange's periodicals.

I have not time to write more. I would be glad to hear from you as soon as convenient. Adieu -- mat the God of love and peace direct all your footsteps and bring us at last unto his heavenly kingdom.

This is from the Daily Missouri Republican, Thurs. May 13, 1846, Vol. XXIV No. 3898 -- This newspaper was published in St. Louis, Missouri and was far from "friendly" to Mormons.

[...]the spectator cannot fail to be struck with the lightness of heart, apparent cheerfulness, and sanguine hopes with which families bid adieu to their friends, and set out on their journey.

This is from The Niagra Democrat, June 2, 1837, Vo. II. No. 40 -- This publication was from Lockport, NY

Turner here bids his readers a final adieu, in a valedictory column, saying his "active participation" probably "will not again be resumed," -- however he soon enough returned to the controlling reins at the Niagara Democrat.

This is from Republican Advocate, Friday, Sep. 22, 1826, Vol. 15 No. 763 -- Published in "Batavia," this one is prior to the establishment of the LDS Church.

[...]by a Canadian Spy of the name of Daniel Johns and headed by a citizen of Le Roy, who must ever bid adieu to the character of a Legislator after having headed such a lawless assemblage, who openly avowed their intention of destroying my printing establishment; and which would have been done, is admitted by Masons in this village, but for Mrs. Morgan's having delivered up certain papers on that day.

This is from the Chicago Times, Saturday, August 7, 1875 -- a newspaper (whose name should still be familiar) published in Chicago, Il. Although it is slightly outside of the publication of the BoM, I still think it is a valid example of the use of the word adieu amongst the general public in America.

The same year the faithful bade a friendly adieu to Clay county and settled in Caldwell, founding the historic town of Far West which soon became prosperous and populous. At this time Joe Smith was a banker at Kirtland, but in 1837 his bank suspended payment and Joe made good time to Far West where he again assumed the leadership of his flock.

This is from the Republican Compiler, January 7, 1834, Vol. 16 No. 18. -- A periodical published in Gettysburg. The title of the article is kind of funny that this appears in. It is "THE MORMONITES AGAIN."

It is in vain to deny, that sectarian influence has nothing to do in this matter-the stake and the fagot was anciently used to burn heretics, and if they are to be revived again, we may bid adieu to liberty equality, and the rights of man!

This is from the Warsaw Message, January 17, 1844, Vol. I. No 4. -- A newpaper from Warsaw, Illinois

If so, farewell freedom; adieu to personal safety, and let the red hot wrath of an offended God purify the nation of such sinks of corruption! For that realm is hurrying to ruin where vice has the power to expel virtue.

This is from the Kansas City Daily Journal June 5, 1881 -- Published in Kansas City, Mo. It is a little into the future, but close enough to be a contemporary IMO.

This ended the interview ad after bidding the old man adieu and thanking him for his kindness the writer took his leave.

This is from the Lee County Democrat, June 15, 1844, Vol. III. - No. 48., Whole No. 152 -- Published in "Fort Madison, I. T.", this is technically an Iowa periodical.

The freedom and liberty of the press should at all times be guarded against violence, and we predict that if such an act of outrage is permitted to be passed over, then indeed we may bid adieu to our sacred liberties.

This one is from an LDS publication which still stands, the Deseret News, Wed., September 23, 1857., No. 29. Vol. VII -- Published in SLC, Utah.

We are united in virtue and truth, and we set hell at defiance, and all her agents. Adieu.

This is another one that predates the formation of the LDS Church. This is from the Western Review, November, 1819, Vol. I. No. 4 -- Published in Lexington, Ky.

Hence the inundation of those barbarous hordes, who, issuing from the mountains of the north, bade adieu to their barren abodes and destroyed every thing in their progress towards more genial climes, until they were themselves destroyed.

This is a letter from a Mormon that was published in the Morning Chronicle, Tuesday June 21, 1842, Vol. 1. - No. 266. -- Published out of Pittsburgh. Interesting side note (at least to me). The cover price was "2 cents."

So, adieu to that "Document" for the present; I shall notice the "Book of Mormon," and "Book of Doctrine and Covenants," referred to in "Mormonism Exposed."

JOHN E. PAGE,

From the Pittsburgh Daily Gazette and Advertiser, Friday Morning, June 13, 1845, Vol. XII. No. 266.

Adieu till then. D. N. W.

This one is from the Christian Baptist, February 7, 1825, Vol. II No. 7 -- Published out of Buffaloe, Brooke Co., Va, this also predates the formation of the LDS Church. I believe this may have been a Cambelite publication.

[â?¦] returned the compliment by pitying him, and after a few ceremonies and compliments we bade adieu, The editor of the Luminary also published some threats of what they are going to do with me; but as yet they have attempted nothing that has seen the light....

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It interesting to note that a similar situation exists in the Bible, wherein the words, "tache"(Ex 26:6), "laver"(Ex 30:18) and "bruit"(Jer 10:22) (also derived from the French) were used. These words are no longer used by English-speaking people, although they evidently were understandable enough at the time the King James translators elected to use these French derived words.

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One of a crop of hardy annuals is the oft-recycled "Adieu" argument. The gist of it goes something like this:

"The use of the French word 'adieu' in Jacob 7:27 is anachronistic. It is one of those nuances which common sense should tell a person that the BoM is not what it claims to be."

I find it hard to take this argument seriously. How can it be "anachronistic" to use a word, in an English translation, that has been part of the English language for over 600 years? It is not the case, as in some of the "dumb and dumber" versions of this argument, that the word purports to come from reformed Egyptian. It is a translated word and nothing else.

What, exactly, is wrong with it?

Does anyone have the courage to show that anything is wrong with it?

Regards,

Pahoran

The adieu argument is worthless because it presupposes verbal equivalence in the translation. Where is the warrant for this presumption? Nowhere.

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Ha, THat is a good one.

You can bet that some evangelicals who have limited intelligence will fall for it, though. I mean, if there are people who masquerade as Christ's ministers and the devil masquerades as an angel of light, it stands to reason that there are at least some real ministers and some real angels of light for these to imitate. But, it never seems to amaze me how stupid people can get when they denigrate the Church or try to attack what they never understood to begin with! Must have something to do with Novak's Rule of Anti-Mormonism.

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So can we take it that no-one is prepared to defend this argument then?

Regards,

Pahoran

I have never seen any critic on this board throw out "adieu" as an argument against BofM authenticity, only apologists bringing it up as an example of a bad criticism.

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I have never seen any critic on this board throw out "adieu" as an argument against BofM authenticity, only apologists bringing it up as an example of a bad criticism.

Paul D has been fighting tooth and nail to claim it as a legitimate argument over on his poor excuse for a message board.

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I have never seen any critic on this board throw out "adieu" as an argument against BofM authenticity, only apologists bringing it up as an example of a bad criticism.

Ain't been around much?

Bernard

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Paul D has been fighting tooth and nail to claim it as a legitimate argument over on his poor excuse for a message board.

What more can be said, mak? Heaven knows I've tried.

Having conceded everything to him, I still can't get him to

acknowledge that "adieu" is perfectly correct 19th-Century

American English. Even if Joseph Smith made it all up,

"adieu" cannot possibly be considered a blunder.

Bernard

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Paul D has been fighting tooth and nail to claim it as a legitimate argument over on his poor excuse for a message board.

I said I hadn't seen it on this board. I don't know about other message boards and it might be possible that some on this board even use it, but in my experience I've only seen it brought up by apologists as an example of bad anti-BofM arguments, which it is.

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Pahoran:

I'll take a stab at it.

First, as you all seem well aware, this is probably the least persuasive criticism of the BOM. Perhps that's why you bring it up? Easier to shoot down than other, more serious problems perhaps? :P

In any event, this seems to be the best LDS defense I've seen on this thread:

Strictly speaking, no words in the Book of Mormon are Jacob's words, or the words of any other prophet of that period. "Adieu" was probably the best equivalent of Jacob's words of which Joseph Smith was aware. So, whether it is "adieu" or "constraineth" or "abomination," they are modern translations of ancient words.â??p. 17

Of course the problem is not that Jacob would use a French word--and even if that were actually the case I'm sure TBMs would simply chalk it up to God giving Jacob pre-French revelation since use of the word was so "apropos". Rather the problem is in the alleged "translation." Note the apologist's sentence:

was probably the best equivalent of Jacob's words of which Joseph Smith was aware.

Who cares what Joseph Smith was aware or not aware of? We hear JS defenders telling us over and over again that Joseph Smith is not responsible for the BOM, rather God is. This gets back to the issue raised on my thread entitled Response to Glenn: Why Not Believe Joseph Smith, about the grammatical errors in the BOM. The problem is Mormons want to give Joseph enough leeway to blame for all the mistakes that appeared in the first edition of the BOM, but then reign him back in and credit God for all the rest.

So my question, when, the LDS apologist states that "'Adieu' was probably the best equivalent of Jacob's words of which Joseph Smith was aware" with the implication that Joseph chose to use that word, how many other words did Joseph also choose? I suggest he chose all of them and God had nothing to do with it. And, of course, I base that on much more than the mere appearance of "Adieu" in the BOM.

And with that, farewell. <_<

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Of course the problem is not that Jacob would use a French word

Adieu is an English word, despite your statement otherwise. Look it up in the dictionary. (Yes, it was taken from a French word, but almost all words in English are taken from another language).

That is the absolute resolution to this issue. Adieu is English, the BOM was translated into English.

So my question, when, the LDS apologist states that "'Adieu' was probably the best equivalent of Jacob's words of which Joseph Smith was aware" with the implication that Joseph chose to use that word, how many other words did Joseph also choose? I suggest he chose all of them and God had nothing to do with it. And, of course, I base that on much more than the mere appearance of "Adieu" in the BOM.

The exact translation process, loose vs tight, is a matter of discussion and there are arguments for both sides. What is not a matter of discussion is whether adieu is a part of the English language. The dictionary resolves that question with authority.

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cdowis is correct. According to etymological dictionaries, adieu was borrowed into the English language in the 14th century:

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search...searchmode=none

We also have the Oxford English Dictionary, which gives examples in English back to that time period:

1393 Gower, Conf. 2.250: "He saide: Adewe my swete may."

1440 J. Shirley, Dethe of James 29: "Adieux. To God I you beteche."

1509 Hawes, Past. Pl. 20.19: "Farewell, swete herte! farewell farewell, farewell! Adieu, adieu!"

1587 Fleming, Contn. Holinshed 3.292/1: "So with this grace good queene now heere adue."

1697 Dryden, Virgil, Past. 3.123 (1721): "Adieu my Dear, she said, a long Adieu."

1850 Tennyson, In Mem. 57.16: "And â??Ave, Ave, Ave,â?? said, â??Adieu, adieuâ?? for evermore."

The idea that this word is French and not English is utterly and completely ludicrous. Here is a partial list of words taken from French, both before and after adieu was adopted:

attorney, bailiff, chancellor, chattel, country, court, crime,

defendant, evidence, government, jail, judge, jury, larceny, noble,

parliament, plaintiff, plea, prison, revenue, state, tax, verdict,

abbot, chaplain, chapter, clergy, friar, prayer, preach, priest,

religion, sacrament, saint, sermon, baron, baroness; count,

countess; duke, duchess; marquis, marquess; prince, princess;

viscount, viscountess; noble, royal,army, artillery, battle, captain,

company, corporal,defense,enemy,marine, navy, sergeant, soldier,

volunteer,beef, boil, broil, butcher, dine, fry, mutton, pork, poultry,

roast,salmon, stew, veal, art, bracelet, claret, clarinet, dance,

diamond, fashion, fur, jewel, oboe, painting, pendant, satin, ruby,

sculpture, adventure, change, charge, chart, courage, devout, dignity,

enamor, feign, fruit, letter, literature, magic, male, female, mirror,

pilgrimage, proud, question, regard, special

I got this from this site:

http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~kemmer/Words/loanwords.html

When William the Conqueror invaded England in the 11th century he became king of England, bringing French with him. Every monarch down to Queen Elizabeth II has been a descendant of William. As you can imagine, since then French has played a large role in the development of the English language. Adieu is not thought of as an English word much anymore, but it is every bit as English as any of the above words. There is absolutely no validity whatsoever in any corner of heaven or earth to this ridiculous argument. It's a complete joke.

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Pahoran:

I'll take a stab at it.

First, as you all seem well aware, this is probably the least persuasive criticism of the BOM. Perhps that's why you bring it up? Easier to shoot down than other, more serious problems perhaps? :P

Er--no.

I brought it up because there are some who think it is valid. That they have not the vertebrae to try to argue it in this forum, where their argument can be subjected to more rigorous scrutiny than they might like, tells us a considerable amount about it. And about them.

Besides, there aren't any "more serious problems." There are just a few less obviously absurd arguments.

In any event, this seems to be the best LDS defense I've seen on this thread:

Of course the problem is not that Jacob would use a French word--and even if that were actually the case I'm sure TBMs would simply chalk it up to God giving Jacob pre-French revelation since use of the word was so "apropos". Rather the problem is in the alleged "translation." Note the apologist's sentence:

Who cares what Joseph Smith was aware or not aware of? We hear JS defenders telling us over and over again that Joseph Smith is not responsible for the BOM, rather God is. This gets back to the issue raised on my thread entitled Response to Glenn: Why Not Believe Joseph Smith, about the grammatical errors in the BOM. The problem is Mormons want to give Joseph enough leeway to blame for all the mistakes that appeared in the first edition of the BOM, but then reign him back in and credit God for all the rest.

This appears to be a straw man.

Who are these imaginary "JS defenders" and "apologists?" You seem to have heard "over and over again that Joseph Smith is not responsible for the BOM, rather God is," but I've never heard that from any LDS source. Certainly not when it comes to word choices.

Perhaps, though, if you are going to to take it upon yourself to tell us what our scriptures mean, you might also take the trouble to familiarise yourself with them. You could start with this one:

D&C 1: 24

24 Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.

So my question, when, the LDS apologist states that "'Adieu' was probably the best equivalent of Jacob's words of which Joseph Smith was aware" with the implication that Joseph chose to use that word, how many other words did Joseph also choose? I suggest he chose all of them and God had nothing to do with it. And, of course, I base that on much more than the mere appearance of "Adieu" in the BOM.

So what? Choosing words is what translators do.

Regards,

Pahoran

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Pahoran:

So what? Choosing words is what translators do.

So you're telling me Joseph Smith knew how to read Reformed Egyptian? And he went through the same thought processes that other translators went through, searching for the correct word to express the thought he understood the original language to be communicating?! So what role did God have in this process?

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