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Good, Homely Cloth


Skywalker

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The anti-Mormon website mormoninformation.com makes the claim that the phrase in Alma 1:29 "good, homely cloth" is really a 19th century idiom.

29 And now, because of the steadiness of the church they began to be exceedingly rich, having abundance of all things whatsoever they stood in need

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The anti-Mormon website mormoninformation.com makes the claim that the phrase in Alma 1:29 "good, homely cloth" is really a 19th century idiom.

I believe critics will try to grasp at anything to discredit the Book of Mormon, but if we examine this phrase, we can actually see an evidence for the veracity of the Book of Mormon.

The phrase used is actually "and all manner of good, homely cloth," and it is actually part of a verse that composes a polysyndenton, according to Hugh Pinnock. We can see, by reading this entire verse in its context that it does, in fact, use several conjunctions in succession (the word "and" in this example).

An article in Meridian Magazine quotes Pinnock:

Are there any other thoughts on this, and other commonly criticized anachronisms in the Book of Mormon?

These critics will indeed grasp at anything. If Joseph Smith chose to translate some Hebrew phrase that meant "good-quality but simple fabric" utilizing an idiom that was familiar to him, what in the world is wrong with that? Translators do it all the time. If I was translating a Hungarian page into English, I might encounter an idiom that literally translates in English as "the cat goes around the hot oatmeal pot." My worth as a translator is not compromised if I use my brain and render it as "beat around the bush."

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These critics will indeed grasp at anything. If Joseph Smith chose to translate some Hebrew phrase that meant "good-quality but simple fabric" utilizing an idiom that was familiar to him, what in the world is wrong with that? Translators do it all the time. If I was translating a Hungarian page into English, I might encounter an idiom that literally translates in English as "the cat goes around the hot oatmeal pot." My worth as a translator is not compromised if I use my brain and render it as "beat around the bush."

I agree with this, unless we abide by the theory that the actual words appeared to Joseph on the seer stone.

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"Dr." Shades seems to think this one phrase is pretty damaging to the Church. Is it really, or it is along the same lines as "Adieu?"

Since you seem to be looking for a debate on this, I'll bite.

Does the presence of distinctly modern language in the Book of Mormon (idioms, terminology, phraseology, and the like) cast doubt on its historicity? In some cases, I think the answer is yes. I'm not sure that the expression "good, homely cloth" is particularly damaging to Mormon truth claims. I suppose it depends on whether there was an ancient American equivalent to homespun (I wouldn't know). If there was, then "good, homely cloth" is a perfectly serviceable translation (just as "adieu" is for bidding farewell).

But when we start dealing with such things as infant baptism, secret combinations, slippery treasures, revival language, anti-Universalist rhetoric, republican ideology, etc., suddenly the concerns of Book of Mormon peoples start taking on an uncanny resemblance to those of western New Yorkers in the 1820s, and I think we can reasonably doubt their historicity.

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Since you seem to be looking for a debate on this, I'll bite.

Does the presence of distinctly modern language in the Book of Mormon (idioms, terminology, phraseology, and the like) cast doubt on its historicity? In some cases, I think the answer is yes. I'm not sure that the expression "good, homely cloth" is particularly damaging to Mormon truth claims. I suppose it depends on whether there was an ancient American equivalent to homespun (I wouldn't know). If there was, then "good, homely cloth" is a perfectly serviceable translation (just as "adieu" is for bidding farewell).

But when we start dealing with such things as infant baptism, secret combinations, slippery treasures, revival language, anti-Universalist rhetoric, republican ideology, etc., suddenly the concerns of Book of Mormon peoples start taking on an uncanny resemblance to those of western New Yorkers in the 1820s, and I think we can reasonably doubt their historicity.

Interesting, thank you for your input. I guess I wasn't really looking for a "debate" as much as other people's views on it.

What revival language, and anti-Universalist rhetoric exists in the BoM?

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Nineteenth century idioms are not a problem to me. Having witnessed the problems in communicating ideas from one language to another I am aware that if an idiom or some other linguistic device can and does make the idea understandable it is used.

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What revival language, and anti-Universalist rhetoric exists in the BoM?

The best treatments of this are Mark D. Thomas, "Revival Language in the Book of Mormon," Sunstone (May/June 1983): 19-25, and Dan Vogel, "Anti-Universalist Rhetoric in the Book of Mormon," in New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology, ed. Brent Lee Metcalfe (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1993), 21-52.

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