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A Goddess in the Book of Mormon


Daniel Peterson

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Have any serious scholars confronted this obvious evidence for the fact that the Book of Mormon is an ancient record? Or do they just put their fingers in their ears and chant "la la la I can't hear you?"

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Have any serious scholars confronted this obvious evidence for the fact that the Book of Mormon is an ancient record? Or do they just put their fingers in their ears and chant "la la la I can't hear you?"

Most, I'm sure, are completely unaware of it and would have to be really persuaded to even bother to take a look.

I did, however, have a fascinating encounter years back with one exceptionally prominent biblical archaeologist who, from what I could tell, was first curious and then essentially put his fingers in his ears and chanted. It was pretty disappointing.

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Nice to see this brought up again! But here's an issue that's been bugging me about this. In the article you said, "Recent scholarship, including archaeological finds, has demonstrated that the goddess Asherah, worshiped among Israel's Canaanite neighbors as the wife of the supreme god, El, was also revered by many Israelites as the consort of El(ohim) and the (in some accounts, virginal) mother of his children."

I understand this is the adamant position of archaeologist William Dever, but don't some (most?) other biblical scholars (Mark Smith comes to mind) disagree that Asherah was worshiped as a consort-goddess in Israel? Also, I've never heard of Israelite accounts where Asherah was the mother of El/Elohim (or Yahweh's) children, virginal or not, and I've never seen any solid evidence that she was considered such in Israel. What evidence is there that she was "revered by many Israelites as the consort of El(ohim) and the...mother of his children"?

This isn't something I'm that well-read on so I'd be interested to see your take on this.

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Have any serious scholars confronted this obvious evidence for the fact that the Book of Mormon is an ancient record? Or do they just put their fingers in their ears and chant "la la la I can't hear you?"

Remeber what the critics frequently state. It is not the number of hits that is important but the number of misses?

Yeah I know, the argument lacks severely.

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Actually, it was while reading Mark Smith's The Early History of God and 1 Nephi at the same time that the idea for the article came to me. Mark Smith's work was what suggested it in the first place. I haven't revisited his book for quite a while, but it seems to me that what he wrote is at least consistent with my position.

There is little written evidence on Asherah from Israel, though there are a couple of extremely significant inscriptions from the area. However, there is an abundance of Asherah figurines found at Israelite archaeological sites, attesting to Asherah-veneration among the masses. And the Bible, as I argue in my article (following David Noel Freedman and others), plainly points to Israelite Asherah-worship. If nothing else, the later prophets are constantly inveighing against it. But, as Freedman pointed out, when Elijah goes after the priests of Ba

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Have any serious scholars confronted this obvious evidence for the fact that the Book of Mormon is an ancient record? Or do they just put their fingers in their ears and chant "la la la I can't hear you?"

There is evidence for the Book of Mormon and there is evidence against the Book of Mormon. Those who do not accept the book as a matter of faith induced knowledge find the evidence against the book more compelling than the evidence for the book.

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This is a fine example of shooting an arrow and then painting concentric circles around it. The Book of Mormon is referring to Mary, not Asherah, and the image of Mary therein is a reflection of Protestant piety that is ultimately derived from fifth century Marian doctrines.

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Sure. I didn't say that I find it compelling, but you can see from above that charity and Peterson find it so compelling that they can't even fathom why scholars would reject it.

What scholar has "rejected" it?

Not the one with whom I discussed the subject, and to whom I alluded above. He simply stopped corresponding with me, despite the fact that he was the one who initiated the correspondence. (There's a bit more to the story, but that's the salient fact. And I know the story better than you do.)

Sorry. Your attempt to portray me as a dim-witted ideologue whose mental rigidity makes it impossible for him to comprehend disagreement is charming, and may well be correct. But, in this particular case, at least, it rests on very insufficient evidence.

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Sure. I didn't say that I find it compelling, but you can see from above that charity and Peterson find it so compelling that they can't even fathom why scholars would reject it.

You are more charitable than I am! I see it as only slightly less tendentious than trying to use that Mesoamerican stela as evidence for the BoM. (Maybe Professor Peterson's article will make it into the next BoM seminary manual with all of the usual "hedging our bets" disclaimers.)

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This is a fine example of shooting an arrow and then painting concentric circles around it. The Book of Mormon is referring to Mary, not Asherah, and the image of Mary therein is a reflection of Protestant piety that is ultimately derived from fifth century Marian doctrines.

Not a serious argument. Sorry. Mere assertion.

Engage the evidence.

You may still disagree, but there is an intellectual-ethical obligation, if you do and if you wish to comment, to present actual data and arguments.

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Actually, it was while reading Mark Smith's The Early History of God and 1 Nephi at the same time that the idea for the article came to me. Mark Smith's work was what suggested it in the first place. I haven't revisited his book for quite a while, but it seems to me that what he wrote is at least consistent with my position.

I read it a few months ago but I understood Smith's conclusion to be that Israelites likely did not worship Asherah as Yahweh/Elohim's consort, but something to the effect that the asherah were a representation of a feminine/fertility aspect of Yahweh. Maybe I'm misremembering though.

There is little written evidence on Asherah from Israel, though there are a couple of extremely significant inscriptions from the area. However, there is an abundance of Asherah figurines found at Israelite archaeological sites, attesting to Asherah-veneration among the masses. And the Bible, as I argue in my article (following David Noel Freedman and others), plainly points to Israelite Asherah-worship. If nothing else, the later prophets are constantly inveighing against it. But, as Freedman pointed out, when Elijah goes after the priests of Ba
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Sorry. Your attempt to portray me as a dim-witted ideologue whose mental rigidity makes it impossible for him to comprehend disagreement is charming, and may well be correct. But, in this particular case, at least, it rests on very insufficient evidence.

The fact that you could read this from my post gives me great concern. Might I suggest a vacation?

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Not a bad article. You make a pretty good case that trees and virgins can both be described as "beautiful" and "white", and that Joseph likely read Proverbs.

The inclusion in 1 Nephi of an authentically preexilic religious symbol that could scarcely have been deduced by the New York farmboy Joseph Smith from the Bible

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Actually, it was while reading Mark Smith's The Early History of God and 1 Nephi at the same time that the idea for the article came to me. Mark Smith's work was what suggested it in the first place. I haven't revisited his book for quite a while, but it seems to me that what he wrote is at least consistent with my position.

There is little written evidence on Asherah from Israel, though there are a couple of extremely significant inscriptions from the area. However, there is an abundance of Asherah figurines found at Israelite archaeological sites, attesting to Asherah-veneration among the masses. And the Bible, as I argue in my article (following David Noel Freedman and others), plainly points to Israelite Asherah-worship. If nothing else, the later prophets are constantly inveighing against it. But, as Freedman pointed out, when Elijah goes after the priests of Ba

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Not a serious argument. Sorry. Mere assertion.

Engage the evidence.

You may still disagree, but there is an intellectual-ethical obligation, if you do and if you wish to comment, to present actual data and arguments.

Brennin elsewhere has suggested that he does not take any LDS apologists seriously, and implying that includes arguments made by LDS...on that premise I think he feels his assertions regarding any arguments LDS make is enough to discredit LDS arguments. I simply don't think you'll see him take your arguments seriously, just so you know. If he ends up taking your arguments seriously, i suppose you would be the first for him.

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I read it a few months ago but I understood Smith's conclusion to be that Israelites likely did not worship Asherah as Yahweh/Elohim's consort, but something to the effect that the asherah were a representation of a feminine/fertility aspect of Yahweh. Maybe I'm misremembering though.

He has argued that, but a better synthesis sees Asherah worship as moving from the consort/fertility goddess perspective toward the feminine/motherhood perspective as a natural result of Yhwh's slow universalization and the developing Israelite aniconism.

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This is a fine example of shooting an arrow and then painting concentric circles around it. The Book of Mormon is referring to Mary, not Asherah, and the image of Mary therein is a reflection of Protestant piety that is ultimately derived from fifth century Marian doctrines.

By all means, support this assertion.

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