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Grant Palmer


doodle

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i think that the church realized from similar situations in the past that by excommunicating him they would only create a controversey, which would likely sell more books.

i am interested to know what people on the board who have read it think of his book.

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miked:

i think that the church realized from similar situations in the past that by excommunicating him they would only create a controversey, which would likely sell more books.

I think it's interesting that some people seem to be completely unwilling to entertain the notion that the LDS church might occasionally make a decent decision that isn't based on PR. Most disciplinary councils are handled at the local levels, not SLC. Bishops and stake presidents are counseled to seek the guidance of the Spirit, weigh the matter carefully and prayerfully, and act in the best interest of the individual. They don't always make perfect decisions, but these matters are taken very seriously and Bishops that I've served with have always expressed how humbling it is and how inadequate they feel to make such decisions. These are decent people trying their best to do what they believe is right.

i am interested to know what people on the board who have read it think of his book.

I read one of the chapters online. The one about the restoration of the priesthood. That coupled with comments I'd heard elsewhere that he didn't really raise anything new except for the Golden Pot thing, so I didn't bother with the book. Though his tone did seem to be quite a bit more tempered than the average LDS critique.

I did read The Golden Pot, though. Strange little story. Didn't see much in terms of parallels to Joseph Smith. I'm pretty sure it can still be found online for free.

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i am interested to know what people on the board who have read it think of his book.

I think it's awful. Particularly the chapter based on E. T. A. Hoffmann's Der goldne Topf. I challenge anybody to actually read Hoffmann and try to believe that Hoffmann's story served as a source or inspiration for Joseph Smith's account of Moroni.

Obviously, though, some people have found Palmer persuasive. (I find it difficult to imagine that they've actually read Hoffmann, too.) The FARMS Review has now published five separate reviews of the book, along with a statement from the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History.

The Smith Institute statement and the reviews by Davis Bitton, Steve Harper, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Louis Midgley, appeared in FARMS Review 15/2 and can be found at

http://farms.byu.edu/publications/reviewvo...ume=15&number=2

The latest response, by James Allen, appears in FARMS Review 16/1, the current number, and can be accessed via

http://farms.byu.edu/publications/reviewvo...ume=16&number=1

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Guest yowzaa
He hasn't been excommunicated. Not, anyway, as of this week.

Hi Daniel,

Lets be honest here, Grant Palmer will never be exed, at least under the current President.

If he Palmer was exed, the media would parade him around on their shoulders and have a field day with this controversy. President Hinkley loathes public controversy involving the church.

I have personally spoke with Grant Palmer, he is a very nice man. I spoke with him for over an hour and a half. He prayed much while writing his book. He is finishing a book about Jesus, for release in the spring of 2005. It is titled "The Incomparable Jesus". I felt he was a very spiritual person, and very centered on Christ.

IMHO, Daniel, if his book is such bunk, then why didn't Farms just ignore it? Instead of reviewing it not once or even twice for good measure, but FIVE times?

Doodle,

When two LDS women(Linda Newell and Valeen Avery) published "Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith" in 1984 they were banned, by the SLC leadership, from speaking--to mormons about their book or church history. This ban dragged on for 10 months. During the ban the book sales tripled. The LA Times carried a headline of "Mormons Forbid Female Biographers of Smith's Wife to Address Church".

When the ban was finally lifted it was reported in MANY newspapers around the country, but NOT the church owned Deseret News.

Interestingly though, the church owned Deseret Book, stocks this above book, AND you can order Palmer's book from them.

It does make one wonder why would the leadership allow their bookstore sell heretical books?

I encourage you doodle, to purchase and read this book about Emma.

-Yowzaa, aka SloMo Joe

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Lets be honest here, Grant Palmer will never be exed, at least under the current President.

That's possible. But I wouldn't bet on it.

I have personally spoke with Grant Palmer, he is a very nice man. I spoke with him for over an hour and a half. He prayed much while writing his book. He is finishing a book about Jesus, for release in the spring of 2005. It is titled "The Incomparable Jesus". I felt he was a very spiritual person, and very centered on Christ.

That may be so, but I don't see the relevance. There are lots of nice non-Mormons, and many of them are spiritual and Christ-centered.

IMHO, Daniel, if his book is such bunk, then why didn't Farms just ignore it? Instead of reviewing it not once or even twice for good measure, but FIVE times?

Whether the book is bunk or not, some people, as I say, have found it persuasive. Anyway, here's the scoop on the five reviews:

I first sought a single review. One person agreed to do it. He then recruited a colleague to help. Eventually, they decided they would prefer to write two separate reviews. Then two other people contacted me and asked me if they could say something about Palmer. Since they were both interesting writers, I said yes. But, by this point, I couldn't gracefully have told the first two reviewers to drop their writing even if I had felt so inclined -- which I didn't. That led to four reviews. And then, when my friend Jim Allen sent me a copy of his review, which he had been asked to write for BYU Studies but which had grown too long, I offered to run the full version (since I liked it), while BYU Studies ran a shorter version. Hence, five reviews. No panic, and no initial plan to publish so many. But I like them, and I'm happy to have published them.

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IMHO, Daniel, if his book is such bunk, then why didn't Farms just ignore it? Instead of reviewing it not once or even twice for good measure, but FIVE times?

As if that weren't enough, in the latest FAIR news letter, there is a review (regurgitation) on the 5 FARMS reviews on Brother Palmer's book. I just ordered the book to see what exactly it is that Brother Palmer says that FARMS and FAIR think is so terrible. If it were nothing than "anti-mormon lies", I doubt these organizations would have even given Grant Palmer the time of day. But 6 reviews? He obviously has something very important and worthwhile to say that the apologists don't think that LDS should hear. It sounds to me like FARMS is being counter-productive by making such a fuss about a book. This reminds me of Brent Metcalfe's book. FARMS' "review" of his book actually EXCEEDED the length of the book that it was reviewing! I think that is a pretty good sign that he hit the nail on the head, and the apologists desperately tried to explain how the nail that was hit was either not a nail, or it was not hit because the definition of "hit" in Aboriginese is very similar to an ancient proverb that says something or another.

Yes, I am mocking half assed apologist hacks. I can't help it, Satan is making me do it. Somebody please come over here and exercise their priesthood authority over me. Satan is making me feel all warm and cuddly, and FARMS wrote 4 books on how that is bad, and that must make it true.

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Guest yowzaa
Whether the book is bunk or not, some people, as I say, have found it persuasive.

Daniel,

I found it very persuasive.

Why?

I was never taught much of what Palmer wrote about, because is not taught in church.

I found much of what he wrote to be factually valid.

I do understand, if these things were taught, the membership numbers of the church would dwindle, and convert baptisms would drop to near zero. This, however, does not excuse the practice which schooled me in matters of the mormon church.

I came to realize that I, and my once testimony, were a product of cherry picked mormon

history and theology.

This book opened my mind to other truths from other books and sources.

Again, if this book is so heretical, why does the church owned bookstore sell it?

Constrained truth, once released, is vehemently persuasive.

May I ask your opinion of Mormon Enigma?

I searched Fair and Farms and found zippo on the book.

-yowzaa aka SloMo Joe

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I think it's a mixed bag. Not horrible, not great. Much in it is useful, but some aspects of it are problematic.

If I'm not mistaken, it first appeared before what was then called the Review of Books on the Book of Mormon had been launched. And, as the title of the Review made clear, its initial mandate dealt only with books on the Book of Mormon. As the years go by, we've expanded our scope. But we've not tried to be systematically retroactive. And, since nobody has mentioned Mormon Enigma in my presence for quite a few years, I've felt no great need to publish anything on it. Richard Anderson, as I recall, has published some things on the relationship between Joseph and Emma that are, implicitly or explicitly, critical of Newell and Avery.

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Guest yowzaa

Daniel,

Thank you for your reply about Mormon Enigma.

IMHO, Mormon Enigma is just as damning to my testimony as was Palmer's book.

I would like to share my book path. NOTE: Yes, there is a generous smattering of internet study spread throughout, as well as DVD viewing.

First I read Charles Larson's By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri. This hit my testimony like a runaway dump truck.

Next, Grant Palmer's An Insider's View of Mormon Origins. This was a wrecking ball.

Then, Richard Abanes' One nation under Gods and Becoming Gods. This was the bulldozer that finished leveling my testimony. * * I very much enjoyed the format of Becoming Gods, almost like reading internet discussion boards.

And finally, Newell and Avery's Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith. The clean up crew that removed all traces of my testimony of mormonism.

Books to I own but still need to read:

Simon Southernton's Losing a Lost Tribe: NAtive Americas, DNA, and the Mormon Church

D. Michael Quinn's Early Mormonism and the Magic World View

B.H. Roberts' Studies of the Book of Mormon

Richard Van Wagoner's Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess

Dan Vogel's Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet

Stan Larson's Quest for the Gold Plates: Thomas Stuart Ferguson's Archaeological Search for The Book of Mormon

Websites(too many to list, here are the major ones of interest):

Farms: http://byu.farms.edu

Fair: http://fairlds.org

RfM: http://exmormon.org

ZLMB: http://p080.ezboard.com/fpacumenispagesfrm72

Rethinking Mormonism: http://www.i4m.com/think/

LDS Info: http://www.lds-mormon.com

The Tanners: http://utlm.org

Mormons in Transition: http://www.irr.org/mit/

Mormon church: http://www.lds.org(seer stone in hat ensign article)

DVDs:

The Lost Book of Abraham: Investigating a Remarkable Mormon Claim.

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Whatever happened to a witness from God that the Church is true? How can something damage your testimony? I would not read Palmer's book for the simple reason that he is a non historian writing a history book. Plus an insider's view? I am an insider as wll. I have been in the Church for over 25 years, I think that counts.

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i am interested to know what people on the board who have read it think of his book.

Through the kind donation of a long time internet friend who lives in the US, Robin (who posted extensively on ZLMB), I acquired Palmer's book which she very graciously mailed overseas to me. The last gesture like this was Gene England, who sent me several of his books in the 80s. Such people touch my soul because of their unselfish generosity, and of course their desire to hear my response.

Palmer's book initially had a very deep impact on me, except the chapter on Hofmann, which I thought spoilt it. Although I had previously considered the possibility of the Book of Mormon being a fraud, it was not until Palmer that I seriously considered it. Most of the information I already knew, but Palmer put it in a very convincing framework, and opened my eyes to things I had not before realised. This so impacted me that I emailed many friends and told them they should read it.

However, I did not conclude that the Book of Mormon was a fraud. I only played with this possibility. Influential to me was the fact that Palmer himself had a very high opinion of the BoM and considered it a "tool" for leading people to Christ. We could agree on that. It was his noncombative and persuasive style which influenced me. There was none of the usual anti-Mormon codswallop which so proliferates on RFM, absolute twaddle. One thing Palmer did do was convince me, temporarily, that the BoM was definitely not history. I held that position until recently. People like Brant Gardener have helped change my mind.

Let me pause here to give an example of what happened to me in the months following my reading of Palmer. In the late 60s I read Von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods, and this led me to feel that there might not be a God. But in the subsequent years I realised how foolish it was to draw this conclusion based on something like Von Daniken. But this realisation only appears in hindsight after initial impact. That is what happened to me with Palmer. Initial impact was huge, but with the passing of time, it's been about a year now, I have gone back to my initial position on the Book of Mormon, and the historicity question is very open, and the Book of Mormon is far from being a fraud, for me.

There are many reasons for this, the main ones being that Palmer failed to explain how the BoM was produced and only pointed to circumstantial evidences. The "genius" theory was one, if I remember correctly, but even that was not overplayed. Palmer resorted mainly to people like B.H.Roberts, who retained his belief in the Book of Mormon despite writing Studies of the Book of Mormon. The next step was to show that Joseph had more schooling than we have been led to believe. And then there were the usual comparisons between the Bible and the BoM and 19th century Protestantism. While impressive, and certainly thought-provoking, in retrospect I feel that I have to keep an open mind in regard to historicity, because on the other side of the ledger we have things like hebraisms in the BoM, chiasmus, and many other things to consider which in my opinion simply cannot be accounted for by resorting to the genius of Joseph Smith. It is just too much of an ask.

Palmer also heavily downplayed the role of miracles and visions in the early church, but a lot of this I had to take on faith too, as you can't know the truth by reading about the absence of something from a record. Palmer referred to these "visions" as "second sight", but who is to say that they were not actual visions? One would have to conclude, based on Palmer's deductions, that every vision in the early church was "second sight", in other words not real, but imaginary. On the other hand, from what I have read I find it difficult to accept that "second sight" can explain everything. My study of NDEs also persuaded me that the early Mormon visions had an "NDE element" to them, that they were real, and those who experienced them actually saw beings from the otherworld, including Joseph Smith when visited by Moroni.

I only mention a few points, but in summary like my initial "Von Daniken" impact, An Insider's View has gone the same way 12 months later. I'm afraid it has so much less meaning to me today, yet the Book of Mormon still shines as brightly as the sun, giving inspiration and insight, and still intellectually and mentally challenging all my presuppositions.

But I can't say that Palmer is "awful", or even pedestrian. I find him very thought-provoking, but ultimately the thoughts he provokes in my mind a year later is that the Book of Mormon is still unexplained, and that one of the best critical minds in the church has failed to explain it.

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I encourage you doodle, to purchase and read this book about Emma.

-Yowzaa, aka SloMo Joe

Hello Joe,

It's good to see you posting here.

I read Mormon Enigma when it first came out, but I went back into the church many times since then, and on the whole it has had virtually no impact on my belief that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, nor of the prophetic nature of Joseph Smith's revelations. At the time of the first reading I think it did, but many more years of reading on polygamy, and in particular Compton's book, put some balance back into the topic. I guess ther initial shock value wore off, but only because I feel that this is a case where there is simply too much evidence FOR Joseph Smith's prophetic status. I guess I am simply awed into submission and have to admit that this genius has no natural explanation. So while I don't personally favour polygamy, I bow to a greater mind than my own, and I recogise that it is truly greater. It could be God, or it could be Joseph Smith. I believe the revelations, however, are from God (though section 132 is one revelation I have questioned). What Joseph did in some of his actions in regard to polygamy I find inexcusable, but perfectly human. The lies were inexcusable. I'll have some more to say though about the conflicting evidence and sources in regard to polygamy, which I have been reading more about lately.

Don't place too much weight on secondary accounts/history, which Mormon Enigma is. While there are primary sources in abundance footnoted, every historian also interprets. That is what Newell and Avery did, to a large extent. To let your testimony fade on a history book is not wise. Human events are too complicated to draw hard and fast conclusions, especially while working with primary sources which themselves were interpretations. A primary source is not infallible, you know, it is still reportage, and reportage can be both biased and incorrectly perceived. I will explain more later if I have some time this weekend, and why I believe we must be very careful in drawing conclusions.

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When are people going to learn that the Church you learn on Sunday's is the Gospel Centered Church, it's doesn't tell all the facts in the universe.

When are they going to learn, that if you want to learn all the facts, you have to go to Deseret Book and start reading a lot.

Those of you who think you will learn "all the facts" from anti-mormon junk are simply dumb.

Why? Because they take our facts that exhist fully in our books and twist them, pervert them, etc. to where they no longer represent FACTS, but instead represent LIES.

Palmers "Golden Pot" is a perfect example of how truth can be so blatantly twisted so it's off in neverland.

One can then only imagine how anti's mess up the small facts by omitting important details. (Actually no imagining necessary, I've seen it over and over.)

Oh, and as to the person above who listed all those faith destroying books your reading.

Why aren't you reading anything on the "pro" side? The books that will thoroughly debunk those books.

I'm not talking Sunday Church here..... I'm talking about Professional LDS scholarship, which by the way many of of anti books aren't even written by professionals or scholars.

So, why do you believe and seek out Liberal Slander over Conservative Facts?

Bush didn't lie, Bush didn't make up the Iraq war, Bush isn't a right wing nut job, etc. etc... The same is with the Church, it doesn't lie, it doesn't make things up, etc.

So why do you go to "crap" books which do nothing but slander, instead of the Best Books out there for the "truths" about the Church?

At the very least read both sides..... Which I don't see anything of, accept you listing a few LDS websites which aren't the same as book reading, which is more personal and in depth.

What, you think you know the Church because you attended it?

Not even close buddy.... After my apostacy I didn't finally learn the truth about the Church until I spent months hours and hours a day studying in the Library Christian history, Church history anti and pro, and other lds materials.

What you learn on Sunday is the Gospel of Christ and small bits of history as it relates, that is the Churche's Mission, is to Exalt the Saints, it's mission isn't a history class.

If you want all the facts then go to LDS university's, and study it's best scholarship.

No religion in the world tells every fact related to it on Sunday's.

The Catholic Church doesn't do it with all it's wicked popes, wars, and heritic killings, Evangelical Churches don't do it with it's racism and heritic killings, etc. etc.

You have to go to the Scholar's who address such materials. And there are plenty of Catholic scholar's etc who go into the full history of Catholism.

Nothing is "hidden" nothing is sugar coated etc.

But to go to Anti-christ's, Atheists, Agnostics, the KKK, Anti-Semites etc. for the "truths" about this or that religion or racial group, one is simply an idiot.

So, going to Anti-mormonism for "truth" about the Church is like going to the Devil about the "Truths" about God. Not very smart! :P

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miked writes:

i am interested to know what people on the board who have read it think of his book.
I also thought it was pretty bad.

When Davis Bitton decided to write a review of the book, he got my number, and called me and asked for my opinions (I do a lot with literary theory and the notion of determining when texts rely on one another). So I did a little work on his first presented parallel.

The following is from some notes that I sent Bitton (I posted a somewhat updated version on ZLMB, but I can't seem to locate it at the moment). I have eliminated a lengthy discussion on method which I sent to Bitton - mostly for space reasons - although I should point out that method is very important in arguments like this, and that Palmer offers no explicit discussion of method.

On page 48, Palmer compares a BoM text and a New Testament text to the effect, he suggests, that

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Benjamin, I have had some difficulty understanding the argument refuting parallels between the BoM and other texts as evidence of 'plagiarism' or 'textual reliance'. I've occasionally heard people dismiss similarities with "View of the Hebrews" with an argument similar to this:

"There are a lot of ideas, story points, and phrases in View of the Hebrews that DON'T ressemble the BoM; anti-parallels, if you will, that show the BoM was probably not taken from VoH."

Benjamin wrote:

We need to ask why it would borrow phrases without using the content
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Ray, thanks for taking the time to update your impressions of Palmer. I have been wondering about that as some of the things you've said recently didn't seem to fit with the framework of your comments about the book when it first came out (such as the historical aspect of the BoM).l

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As far as I can tell, this is saying 'if we are to theorize that someone borrowed part of a text in creating the BoM, we must ask why they didn't borrow more'
I read it as saying 'if we are to theorize that someone borrowed part of a text in creating the BoM, we must ask why they borrowed it.' If it lacks content, then the similarity of the phrases could be a result of something else. Borrowing phrases without borrowing content/context tells us nothing more than that language was shared, which since JS lived in the same area should hardly be surprising. Your Cliff Notes analogy already has the common context proved, but even then there is no way to tell if the kid got the phrasing from the Cliff Notes or if they shared a common source.
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Matt writes:

As far as I can tell, this is saying 'if we are to theorize that someone borrowed part of a text in creating the BoM, we must ask why they didn't borrow more'.

This seems like saying "Well, Bobby's book report has phrases that are very similar to the Cliff's Notes discussion of the same topic. However, we need to ask why Bobby would borrow phrases without using the same content."

This argument is missing something, or I am. (It very well may be me, which is why I'm asking.)

I have a large collection of 18th and 19th century religious literature. Many of these books are simply collections of sermons. Some are apologetic in nature dealing with manuscript history of the Bible. Some are polemic (I have a nice collection of material opposing deists for example). I am not unfamiliar with the literature of the period. I also have a huge collection of texts from this period in electronic format.

If you take any two literary works from this time period and do a comparison, you can provide a set of statistics. I analyze these texts based on frequencies. First I assess the size of the vocabulary by listing the unique words in each text. (I do this with texts that have been converted to electronic format). Then I create locutions using the text. I generally limit it to three and four word locutions. A locution is taking every existing phrase of particular length. So, if we started with the Book of Mormon, which begins, "I Nephi, having been born of goodly parents ...", the first three three-word locutions would be "I Nephi having", "Nephi having been", "having been born". You then isolate the number of unique locutions of a given size. In the case of the Book of Mormon, for example, this is smaller (by quite a bit) from the total possible because of repeated phrases (And it came to pass, e.g.). You can then compare two texts to see what kind of overlap exists. The Book of Mormon has about 141,000 unique three-word locutions. The frequency with which this book overlaps other 19th century works usually ranges between 1.5% and 3% (I have gotten results of more than 5%, but these are usually with very lengthy works which show a high degree of overlap in the vocabulary). At 3%, this means that out of all of the existing three-word phrases in the Book of Mormon, that well over 4,000 shared phrases exist between two works.

To put this into a little perspective, Ramsay

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Yowzaa said:

I found it very persuasive.

Which says more about your own powers of perception and ability to analyze evidence than it does the strength of Palmer's arguments.

I was never taught much of what Palmer wrote about, because is not taught in church.

Like what? I would be willing to bet that everything that Palmer makes reference to can be found in some Church publication or another. Incidentally, how long is your block of Church meetings that it would allow every bit of irrelevant historical trivia to be discussed? The 40 minutes that I have in Elder's quorum is normally just barely enough to cover the major themes of the lessons, let alone delve into the murky waters of historical minutae.

I found much of what he wrote to be factually valid.

Again, such as what? Do you have an example of this?

I do understand, if these things were taught, the membership numbers of the church would dwindle, and convert baptisms would drop to near zero.

Which damning things are we referring to here? I can't think of a single one.

This, however, does not excuse the practice which schooled me in matters of the mormon church.

Which practice is that? You post is so obtuse as to be distressingly incomprehensible.

I came to realize that I, and my once testimony, were a product of cherry picked mormon history and theology.

Viola! We have a winner. I have to admit, though, it was pretty obvious this was coming. Still, I appreciate that you didn't let me down. What point would any exmo rant have if it didn't include the obligatory "I'm smarter than you" declaration. Apparently, you are one of the "special people" (referred to by another exmo poster) who has that gift of "thinking out of the box" while the rest of witless TBM's go blithley about sticking our heads in the sand. It's a wonder that I can form a complete sentence.

This book opened my mind to other truths from other books and sources.

Oh, I'm sure it did. :P

Again, if this book is so heretical, why does the church owned bookstore sell it?

So, what you are saying is the Church secretly endorses Palmer's work and by having Deseret Book sell it the leadership is secretly hoping everyone will read it and become just as intellectually advanced as yourself?

Not likely. A more likely scenario is that 1) The book is so "under the radar" that the Church and Deseret Book are completely unaware of its contents; or 2) Deseret Book has some sort of contract with the publisher that requires them to carry all of the publishers books; or 3) The book is so utterly silly and unpersuasive that the Church really isn't concerned about losing members by the dozens due to its influence.

I suspect any of these scenarios is more likely than your implied one.

Constrained truth, once released, is vehemently  persuasive.

Bald assertions, unpersuasively maintained, are not the truth.

May I ask your opinion of Mormon Enigma?
\

Compton's work was better, even though he tends to give too much credence to questionable evidentiary sources.

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I think evaulating certain words on their own merit can bring you to the same place.

Stinketh is a good example. Certain words are Holy-conjugated using the "eth" form and others are not. Stink and stinketh are both found in the KJV. And the action form of stink is not always given the "eth". In the several examples I can find it apears that stinketh is used when one refers to another, stinkwhen one refers to oneself.

KJV:

He stinketh.

I stink.

The stink was bad.

The same word construction pattern is used in the BOM. In the one case where someone suggests another stinks they use stinketh.

You can look up other conjugations and find oddities in both the Bible AND the BOM. Think is sometimes thinketh - sometimes thinks. Please, on the other hand goes to pleaseth all over the Bible, stays please or pleases in the BOM, and then makes a reaaperance 1/2 way through D&C. Odd.

Take from that what you will. To me it looks like Joseph was reading the Bible thoughout the writing of the BOM. Whenever a certain word appeared in a certain way in the Bible it was more likely to end up in the BOM. Or make it seem like something that supports the BOM. All this kind of thing can go any way you want it to. This is why I think chiasmus and the like are useless indicators - however much Mormons love to cling to them.

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