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Porter and Meldrum Drafting Hugh Nibley


Kevin Christensen

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I can fully understand why apologists would be irked with the suggestion that somehow Meldrum's view has the support of revelation, which seems to be a spurious claim to authority. On the other hand, what difference does it really make if some people believe the BoM occurred in North America instead of Central America? Is either view a central tenet of the faith? Does one come closer to God or achieve salvation through one view as opposed to the other? What, in the end, is the big deal?

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I can fully understand why apologists would be irked with the suggestion that somehow Meldrum's view has the support of revelation, which seems to be a spurious claim to authority. On the other hand, what difference does it really make if some people believe the BoM occurred in North America instead of Central America? Is either view a central tenet of the faith? Does one come closer to God or achieve salvation through one view as opposed to the other? What, in the end, is the big deal?

Have you read the criticisms of Meldrum's (and now Porter's apparently) position here on the board or over at FAIR? It is not about where they locate the BoM, it is how they go about doing it (their use of certain studies inappropriately) and certain condemnations they both specify and imply (such the faithfulness of those academics who disagree with them).
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Have you read the criticisms of Meldrum's (and now Porter's apparently) position here on the board or over at FAIR? It is not about where they locate the BoM, it is how they go about doing it (their use of certain studies inappropriately) and certain condemnations they both specify and imply (such the faithfulness of those academics who disagree with them).

Cal, sorry for not being exhaustive here. I was alluding to at least one of the problematic issues in my first sentence. I am aware of others. I am not saying that there is nothing to be upset about in the way Meldrum and others have put forward their case. On the other hand, the issue of Book of Mormon geography, itself, has nothing to do with one's eternal salvation. Neither does the support one gives or does not give to apologetics. No offense.

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On the other hand, the issue of Book of Mormon geography, itself, has nothing to do with one's eternal salvation.

And I would agree with you about this issue (apologetics can be seen as defense of the faith and may in some situations actually have something to do with someone's salvation imo).

Is there anyone that has made this sort of claim of eternal significance in criticizing Meldrum and associates?

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And I would agree with you about this issue (apologetics can be seen as defense of the faith and may in some situations actually have something to do with someone's salvation imo).

Is there anyone that has made this sort of claim of eternal significance in criticizing Meldrum and associates?

You might think it did given the amount of passion devoted to the argument. I never claimed, however, that such a claim had been made. And the absence of such a claim does not make my observation any less worthwhile.

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You might think it did given the amount of passion devoted to the argument.

Having seen the passion given to purely academic issues...some of minute signficance, I wouldn't think that myself.
I never claimed, however, that such a claim had been made. And the absence of such a claim does not make my observation any less worthwhile.

However making that observation seems to imply that someone has made that claim, otherwise why bother making that observation? Would you make an observation in the middle of a discussion dealing with the current condition of the Sun based on the nonexistent circumstance that the Sun was a nova? I am trying to understand what point you were trying to make. Why did this thought occur to you if there was never a claim of such a sort made?

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I can fully understand why apologists would be irked with the suggestion that somehow Meldrum's view has the support of revelation, which seems to be a spurious claim to authority. On the other hand, what difference does it really make if some people believe the BoM occurred in North America instead of Central America? Is either view a central tenet of the faith? Does one come closer to God or achieve salvation through one view as opposed to the other? What, in the end, is the big deal?

I think that the biggest deal is the issue of credibility, the outsider view that one may have of LDS Scholarship. I also think Kevin missed a quote by Hugh Nibley about his own work that he would not be held accountable for anything that he had written more than three years ago. I wish I knew where to find that quote myself.

I think that Hugh's work was groundbreaking for many LDS scholars, but there has been so much knowledge literally unearthed since he wrote much of his work and any serious scholar will refine Nibley's work with the latest findings.

Glenn

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Having seen the passion given to purely academic issues...some of minute signficance, I wouldn't think that myself.

As an academic, I know this full well. Things get a little more complicated, however, where issues of religious identity and orthodoxy are involved.

However making that observation seems to imply that someone has made that claim, otherwise why bother making that observation? Would you make an observation in the middle of a discussion dealing with the current condition of the Sun based on the nonexistent circumstance that the Sun was a nova? I am trying to understand what point you were trying to make. Why did this thought occur to you if there was never a claim of such a sort made?

Yes, things can seem to be a number of things to any number of people. If you prefer to take that as me implying that the claim had been made in this thread, you are free to do so. I feel no obligation to defend your interpretation of what I posted. I have observed the overall Book of Mormon geography debate for some time, and the criticisms on both sides have included religious criticisms. Given that this is the case, I don't feel like it is ever out of place to remind people of the relative importance of the debate. If it had always been conducted as a mere academic disagreement, there would be no need to make such comments. As that is not the case, I think it is a worthwhile observation.

This is different from being a board nanny.

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As an academic, I know this full well. Things get a little more complicated, however, where issues of religious identity and orthodoxy are involved.

And unfortunately...at least in my view...politics, relationships, and a host of other issues that have emotional value in someone's eyes.

Yes, things can seem to be a number of things to any number of people. If you prefer to take that as me implying that the claim had been made in this thread, you are free to do so.

I am intentionally not taking it any way, but trying to understand how you got from point A in a discussion to point C where at least I missed point B.
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And unfortunately...at least in my view...politics, relationships, and a host of other issues that have emotional value in someone's eyes.

And your point is what, that all academic issues are liable to end in the same level of passion and conviction that leads people to become suicide bombers? Interesting.

I am intentionally not taking it any way, but trying to understand how you got from point A in a discussion to point C where at least I missed point B.

I made an observation that is perfectly natural within the larger context of the Book of Mormon geography debates. Personally, I don't find that to be very mysterious.

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And your point is what, that all academic issues are liable to end in the same level of passion and conviction that leads people to become suicide bombers? Interesting.

Now that is one fantastical interpretation of what I said.....

I made an observation that is perfectly natural within the larger context of the Book of Mormon geography debates. Personally, I don't find that to be very mysterious.

While on the other hand, I didn't follow your reasoning so asked for clarification.....
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I think that the biggest deal is the issue of credibility, the outsider view that one may have of LDS Scholarship. I also think Kevin missed a quote by Hugh Nibley about his own work that he would not be held accountable for anything that he had written more than three years ago. I wish I knew where to find that quote myself.

I think that Hugh's work was groundbreaking for many LDS scholars, but there has been so much knowledge literally unearthed since he wrote much of his work and any serious scholar will refine Nibley's work with the latest findings.

Glenn

Nibley strongly encouraged reappraisal when it came to academic approaches and answers. "We need it all the time," he declared, "If there is any other thing that characterizes the recent appearances in the journals and periodicals today, it is reappraisal." He did not excuse himself from this reappraisal. He encouraged it:

I refuse to be held responsible for anything I wrote more than three years ago. For heaven's sake, I hope we are moving forward here. After all, the implication that one mistake and it is all over with
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Nibley strongly encouraged reappraisal when it came to academic approaches and answers. "We need it all the time," he declared, "If there is any other thing that characterizes the recent appearances in the journals and periodicals today, it is reappraisal." He did not excuse himself from this reappraisal. He encouraged it:

See Hugh W. Nibley, "The Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham," Sunstone 4 (December 1979): 49-51.

The misuse of Nibley reminds me of earlier misuse of President Hickley. Such quote-mining seems somewhat common for Meldrum scholarship.

Thanks for the full quote and source. Meldrum's scholarship does seem a bit uncredible.

Glenn

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Now that is one fantastical interpretation of what I said.....

OK. So you are not claiming a kind of equivalency between all academic and all religious arguments and admit that my observation that there are differences has merit?

While on the other hand, I didn't follow your reasoning so asked for clarification.....

And so I provided it.

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Nibley strongly encouraged reappraisal when it came to academic approaches and answers. "We need it all the time," he declared, "If there is any other thing that characterizes the recent appearances in the journals and periodicals today, it is reappraisal." He did not excuse himself from this reappraisal.

Of course, reappraisal doesn't work in one direction and in support of one side of the argument.

What I find most interesting is the impulse that is driving people to this North American geography. It makes me think that there may be, correctly or incorrectly, something unsatisfying about the way the case for a Mesoamerican LGT is being made.

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And your point is what, that all academic issues are liable to end in the same level of passion and conviction that leads people to become suicide bombers? Interesting.

I made an observation that is perfectly natural within the larger context of the Book of Mormon geography debates. Personally, I don't find that to be very mysterious.

Don't put words in others' mouths.

Skylla

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I can fully understand why apologists would be irked with the suggestion that somehow Meldrum's view has the support of revelation, which seems to be a spurious claim to authority. On the other hand, what difference does it really make if some people believe the BoM occurred in North America instead of Central America? Is either view a central tenet of the faith? Does one come closer to God or achieve salvation through one view as opposed to the other? What, in the end, is the big deal?

It isn't a big deal. It's a tertiary matter, at most.

I'm not very amused, though, when somebody suggests that, because I don't buy into an upper-Great-Lakes geographical model for the Book of Mormon (or whatever), I'm an apostate who rejects Joseph Smith and, as one person put it to me, doesn't really want the Book of Mormon to be true.

Incidentally, I'm reliably informed (by my Malevolent Stalker's most slavish disciple) that Meldrum, Porter, and May have me in an absolute fury, not to mention in a panic. I'll have to ask my wife whether that's true.

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I'm not very amused, though, when somebody suggests that, because I don't buy into an upper-Great-Lakes geographical model for the Book of Mormon (or whatever), I'm an apostate who rejects Joseph Smith and, as one person put it to me, doesn't really want the Book of Mormon to be true.

That's interesting, because, were I in your position, given the stupidity of the accusation and its likelihood of getting traction with anyone of any consequence, I would probably find it hilarious. But I have an odd sense of humor.

I find it to be quite a bind. On the one hand, it is important to emphasize the relative unimportance of the issue, and on the other hand it is deemed necessary to show how wrong the Great-Lakes model is. Kind of difficult to argue the former persuasively, when the latter debate is pursued with such vigor.

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Unless and/or until FAIR/FARMS presents convincing evidence for Sorenson's theory, regular church members will continue to be drawn to the plain/traditional understanding of BoM geography. Can you really blame them when not a single artifact or inscription has been produced in support of the Central American theory? It's analogous to the manner in which Christians cling to a North Pole geography for Santa Claus, even though the South Pole is far more plausible.

BTW, I'm disappointed you never responded to the post in which I referenced your Isaiah article.

The statement "unless and/or until FAIR/FAIRS presents convincing evidence for Sorenson's theory" presumes a great deal in its use of the word "convincing." In paradigm debates, "So what?" can be used to dismiss any and all evidence for opposing paradigms. As Kuhn says, participants all get to decide for themselves which problems are more significant to have solved. They all get to not only provide maps, but some of the rules for map making, and for defining what does and does not count as significant evidence, relative to a specific theory. We all get to decide whether to label something as "decisive evidence," or an open puzzle, or whether to simply ignore inconveniences. "Convincing" is an inescapably relative term, whether or not one tries to pad one's argument by pretending that it isn't. There is a way around that relativistic reality, a way to consciously negotiate, but it involves an explicit recognition of what goes into making something convincing to one person working a given perspective, and why another person might be completely unimpressed, and how different approaches can be comparatively assessed. I have published several essays on this topic, drawing on Kuhn and Barbour. From my perspective, the inscribed artifact discussed here is decisively relevant to your claim that we've got nothing.

http://www.shields-research.org/General/SEHA/SEHA_Newsletter_122-2.PDF

Besides this, we have the the Nahom altars, a marvelous Bountiful candidate, among other things in the Old World (see Glimpses of Lehi's Jerusalem, while supplies last). In the New World, we have a Poulson's case for the textual description of the Sidon as uniquely matching the Grijalva, and significant convergences around that correlation, including the use of cement in the right relative location and time, the rise and fall of civilizations at the right time, evidence for a major volcanic event in the right time and place, the right seasonality of warfare, etc. Brant Gardner has eloquently spoken and written on "convergences." Personally, I find his case very convincing, his perspectives relevant, and his approach fruitful.

I also find it very enlightening to pay close attention to the metaphors that people use. "To what shall I liken it, that ye may understand?" We show a lot about how we map the territory through our metaphors. I'm understandably not curious about which Professional Christian Scholarly Journals I can look at to see Christians seriously debating the location of Santa Claus's workshop. So I question the applicability the metaphor to the real situation.

"Anomaly" Kuhn says, "emerges from a background of expectation." With a different set of background expectations for Joseph Smith as a prophet, I interpret Meldrum and Porter's case very differently than they do. I think I can make a good case that I have incorporated a more comprehensive, tolerant, and robust set of scriptural expectations for what a prophet is than they have done. Which means, I can argue that my expectations of Joseph Smith a prophet are more realistic than theirs, and their case that Joseph "must have known" is fatally flawed based on Kuhn's criteria of accuracy of key predictions, comprehensiveness and coherence, fruitfulness, simplicity and aesthetics, and future promise.

Sorry to disappoint you relative to your Pundit thread on Isaiah. But I have, after all, published on the topic, (my chapter in Paradigms Regained, and my major sources, the (FARMS Volume on Isaiah in the Book of Mormon and The Older Testament) are available and I've frequently referred to how relevant I consider Margaret Barker's essay on "The Background of the Fourth Servant" song, which makes a strong case that it was written in response to Hezekiah's bout with the plague, and therefore, likely written by Isaiah of Jerusalem. It does not constitute a complete response to the Isaiah question, but I think it is a promising development that should not be ignored by those interested in the Book of Mormon. Her essay is available on her website. An essay of mine with further comments on that issue is forthcoming, in a future FARMS Review.

(edited several typos)

Kevin Christensen

Bethel Park, PA

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That's interesting, because, were I in your position, given the stupidity of the accusation and its likelihood of getting traction with anyone of any consequence, I would probably find it hilarious. But I have an odd sense of humor.

So do I. But I still don't find it amusing to be accused of being an unbelieving apostate. I'm odd that way.

I find it to be quite a bind. On the one hand, it is important to emphasize the relative unimportance of the issue, and on the other hand it is deemed necessary to show how wrong the Great-Lakes model is. Kind of difficult to argue the former persuasively, when the latter debate is pursued with such vigor.

I've been involved in vigorous arguments regarding all sorts of subjects that have no bearing on anybody's salvation or on any other ultimate question. Was the tenth-century Fatimid caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, for instance, insane, a religious fanatic, or a canny reformer? Was the Qur

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Was the tenth-century Fatimid caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, for instance, insane, a religious fanatic, or a canny reformer?

My impression is that he was a bit of all three, though of all of them, fanatic seems to be the least.

Was it during his reign that a typo in an administrative message caused several hundred captive Christian monks in Jerusalem to be castrated?

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