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Is this legit?


Bernard Gui

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I recently received this story from a friend via email.

Anyone else seen it?

Is it legitimate or just an FPR (Faith Promoting Rumor)?

Bernard

Muslim translates Book of Mormon back to Egyptian and is converted

Sami Hanna, is a native Egyptian. He is an academic scholar who moved into

Utah neighborhood to accept an assignment with the university as a

specialist in Middle Eastern Studies and the Semitic group of languages such as Arabic, Abyssinian,

Hebrew, Aramaic, and Assyrian.

Being a newcomer into our community, he felt the Mormons were a bit of

a curiosity. Upon learning the name Mormon came from our belief that the Book

of Mormon is divine scripture, he was intrigued by the existence of the Book of Mormon. He

had erroneously thought this was American literature. When he was told that the Book of Mormon was

translated from the ancient Egyptian or modified Hebrew type of hieroglyphic into the English

language by the prophet Joseph Smith, he became even more engrossed, for this was his native

language and he knows much about the other Semitic languages as well as the modern languages.

So challenged was he by this book that he embarked on the project of

translating the Book of Mormon from English to Arabic. This translation was

different from other translators, for this was to be a translation

back to the original language of the book. To make a long story short, the process

of this translation became the process of his conversion; for he soon knew the Book of

Mormon to be a divine document even though he knew virtually nothing

of the organization of the Church or of its programs. His conversion came purely from the

linguistics of the book which he found could not have been composed by an American,

no matter how gifted.

Some of these observations I think will be of interest to you,

as they were to me, for they clarify some of the unique aspects of the book.

1. Jarom 2: "It musts needs be..." This expression, odd and awkward in English,

is excellent Arabic grammar. Elsewhere in the book the use of the

compound verbs "did eat", "did go", "did smile" again awkward and rarely used in English, are

classical and correct grammar in the Semitic languages.

2. Omni 18: "Zarahemla gave a genealogy of his fathers, according

to his memory. Brother Hanna indicates that this is a typical custom

of his Semitic forebearers to recite their genealogy from memory.

3. Words of Mormon 17: Reference is made here as in other parts of the

Book of Mormon, to the "stiffneckedness" of his people. Brother Hanna perceives that this

word would be a very unusual word for an American youth, Joseph Smith, to use. An American would

likely prefer an adjective such as stubborn or inflexible. But the custom in the Arabic language

is to use just such a descriptive adjective. Stiffnecked is an adjective they use in describing an

obstinate person.

4. Mosiah 11:8 "King Noah built many elegant and spacious

buildings and ornamented them with fine work and precious

things, including ziff." Have you ever wondered about the meaning of the word

"ziff" referred to in this scripture? This word, although in the Book

of Mormon, is not contained in dictionaries of the English language. Yet it translates freely back

into the Arabic language, for ziff is a special kind of curved sword somewhat like a scimitar which

is carried in a sheath and often used for ornamentation as well as for more practical purposes. The

discovery of the word "ziff" in the Book of Mormon really excited my neighbor, Brother Hanna.

5. Alma 63:11 Reference is made to Helaman, son of Helaman. Why did

not Joseph Smith interpret this as Helaman, Jr., which would have been more logical for

him, bearing the same name as his father, Joseph, and being named Joseph Smith, Jr. In Arabic ,

Brother Hanna explains, there is no word junior" to cover this circumstance. Their custom is to use the

terminology Joseph, son of Joseph; Helaman, son of Helaman, etc.

6. Helaman 1:3 Here reference is made to the contending for the judgment seat.

Brother Hanna observes that the use of the term "judgment seat" would be quite

strange to an American who might have used a more familiar

noun such as governor, president, or ruler. Yet, in Arabic custom, the

place of power rests in the judgment seat and whoever occupies that seat, is the authority and power.

The authority goes with the seat and not with the office or the person. So, this, in the Semitic

languages, connotes the meaning exactly.

7. Helaman 3:14 In this verse, there are a total of eighteen "ands."

Reviewers of the Book of Mormon have, on occasion, been critical of the grammar in such a

passage where the use of the word "and" seems so repetitious. Yet Brother Hanna explains that each of

the "ands" in this verse is absolutely essential to the meaning, when this verse is expressed in Arabic, for the

omission of any " and" would nullify the meaning words.

8. Helaman 3:18-19 Have you wondered why the Book of Mormon cites a numbering

system such as this? Do we say "forty and six, forty and seven, forty

and eight?" No! Joseph Smith's natural interpretation would; more appropriately have

been forty-six, forty-seven, forty-eight without the ands". Brother Hanna excitedly

observes that the use of "and" in forty and six" is precisely correct Arabic.

Remember they number, as well as read, from right to left and recite their numbers with the "and" to

separate the columns.

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I recently received this story from a friend via email.

Anyone else seen it?

Is it legitimate or just an FPR (Faith Promoting Rumor)?

Bernard

It is genuine. I met Sami many years ago in Salt Lake City. I attended one of his lectures. He used to relate those things in his public speeches. You can find out more about him from this FAIR Wiki.

The Wiki article is also right about him being a bit naive. His observation about Ziff is obviously incorrect. The context of the Book of Mormon makes it clear that Ziff refers to a metal of some description, more likely to a metal alloy, not some kind of a sword. If he has translated it into Arabic as that, then his translation is wrong!

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Very impressive observations.

It is indeed odd that a person writing bible-like scripture would use terms and language construction found throughout the King James Bible.

I think this gentleman was really on to something there!

And you're on to a week suspension!

~Chronos

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Very impressive observations.

It is indeed odd that a person writing bible-like scripture would use terms and language construction found throughout the King James Bible.

I think this gentleman was really on to something there!

I am doing my best, but I am finding it hard to make much sense of what you are saying.

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Legit, but Sammi had left the church later and became an evangelical.

Where is he now? Has he gone to the dark side?

Bernard

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I met an Egyptian convert at the Los Angeles Temple a couple of years ago. He attended regularly. He may have been a Copt before conversion because he was quite surprised when I described for him some of the Muslim rites and type of clothing worn in Mecca during the Hajj. He didn't realize that the word Mecca means "Temple," and that Muslims so regard it. I won't here go into the very significant parallels between the Muslim rites and ours, but anyone interested can pursue it on his own. Muslims have allowed some very detailed publications on this in recent years (with photos), so it is easy to research.

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Maybe my brain is screwed up; but I still don't get it.

If I understand correctly, his point would be that Joseph Smith copied parts of the Bible, style of the Bible, whatever of the Bible to come up with the Book of Mormon.

For those interested in connections between temple worship and within Islam, read up on Muhammad's Night Journey.

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If I understand correctly, his point would be that Joseph Smith copied parts of the Bible, style of the Bible, whatever of the Bible to come up with the Book of Mormon.

Firstly, I would rather he spoke for himself, than a whole bunch of people trying to act as his spokesman. Secondly, if that is what he was saying, then it still does not add up to the way he said it. And thirdly, assuming that is what he was saying, so what? There is nothing new about that. How does that connect with the rest of the conversation?

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Firstly, I would rather he spoke for himself, than a whole bunch of people trying to act as his spokesman. Secondly, if that is what he was saying, then it still does not add up to the way he said it. And thirdly, assuming that is what he was saying, so what? There is nothing new about that. How does that connect with the rest of the conversation?

Am I the "he" in these comments?

I am now able to post again (who knew that a bit of sarcasm would merit a long suspension?), so what is your confusion exactly?

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Am I the "he" in these comments?

I am now able to post again (who knew that a bit of sarcasm would merit a long suspension?), so what is your confusion exactly?

See post #6. I just don't know what you are talking about; simple as that.

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See post #6. I just don't know what you are talking about; simple as that.

Pretty much what others have said, that these examples of supposed links to semitic languages are no more than instances of an author aping bible language.

If I am creating a book of scripture that I want to sound like the KJV bible, of course I would include phrases and words that are found in the KJV. Simple as that.

A quick search reveals several examples of these phrases in the bible. Surely you aren't asking to see references for them, are you?

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Pretty much what others have said, that these examples of supposed links to semitic languages are no more than instances of an author aping bible language.

If I am creating a book of scripture that I want to sound like the KJV bible, of course I would include phrases and words that are found in the KJV. Simple as that.

A quick search reveals several examples of these phrases in the bible. Surely you aren't asking to see references for them, are you?

Well I am not sure how much of an objection that is, because as I had mentioned in a post in another thread, the amount of direct quotes form the Bible in the Book of Mormon amount to about 6% of the book. The rest is fresh material. There is more than 6% of the OT quoted within the OT. There are also considerable quotes from the OT in the NT; and from the NT within the NT. I don't see that can be seen as a serious objection to the Book of Mormon.

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Well I am not sure how much of an objection that is, because as I had mentioned in a post in another thread, the amount of direct quotes form the Bible in the Book of Mormon amount to about 6% of the book. The rest is fresh material. There is more than 6% of the OT quoted within the OT. There are also considerable quotes from the OT in the NT; and from the NT within the NT. I don't see that can be seen as a serious objection to the Book of Mormon.

I'm not getting how these percentages mean anything. Why does it matter how much of the total text is direct quotes?

The pertinent point here is not that the BoM rips off the bible's content; it is that language constructions such as "forty and four," "must needs be," "judgement seat" and "stiffnecked" are all common King James words and phrases. Therefore, a person who is writing with the aim of imitating the feel of that bible would be very likely to use them. The use of such phrases is not evidence that the BoM was a translation from an Egyptian or Hebrew source, but evidence that the book was created to emulate the KJV style (by someone who knew that style well).

And the fact that Smith didn't call a character "Helaman Jr."? Surely no thoughtful person would accept that as serious evidence for a semitic language origin.

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EbedTrap.png

Pretty much what others have said, that these examples of supposed links to semitic languages are no more than instances of an author aping bible language.

If I am creating a book of scripture that I want to sound like the KJV bible, of course I would include phrases and words that are found in the KJV. Simple as that.

A quick search reveals several examples of these phrases in the bible. Surely you aren't asking to see references for them, are you?

I will stipulate that the Book of Mormon (see 2 Nephi 12:2-4 below) has similar phrasing to the KJV Bible (see Isaiah 2:2-4 below). Let's see if I understand you correctly. Your stance is that anytime such parallel phrasing occures it is NOT because God inspired more than one prophet, each in different times and in different places, to use the same phrasing? You insist that one author is just "aping" the other and therefore his writings cannot be inspired? Is that correct?

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks – nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (2 Nephi 12:2-4)
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:2-4)

If that really is the stand you are taking, I am sure you have a ready explanation for Micah 4:1-3.

“But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Micah 4:1-3)

Please justify your reasoning as to why you think 2 Nephi should be treated differently than Micah. Or are you willing to stipulate that God can inspire more than one prophet, each in different times and in different places, to use the same or similar phrasing?

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I will stipulate that the Book of Mormon (see 2 Nephi 12:2-4 below) has similar phrasing to the KJV Bible (see Isaiah 2:2-4 below). Let's see if I understand you correctly. Your stance is that anytime such parallel phrasing occures it is NOT because God inspired more than one prophet, each in different times and in different places, to use the same phrasing? You insist that one author is just "aping" the other and therefore his writings cannot be inspired? Is that correct?

"Cannot be inspired"? No, of course I wouldn't rule out that possibility entirely. But imitating the style is a much more likely explanation for these BoM phrases than assuming a Hebrew/Egyptian origin (for the same reason that I expect to see horses rather than zebras when I hear the clip-clop of hooves on my road).

Please justify your reasoning as to why you think 2 Nephi should be treated differently than Micah. Or are you willing to stipulate that God can inspire more than one prophet, each in different times and in different places, to use the same or similar phrasing?

I don't see any reason to treat them differently. They both appear to have copied the earlier work.

I will gladly stipulate the possibility that there might be such things as gods and prophets, who would be free to inspire each other in any way they want. But since I don't see any evidence for either, your scenario appears very unlikely.

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EbedInclusion.png

"Cannot be inspired"? No, of course I wouldn't rule out that possibility entirely. But imitating the style is a much more likely explanation for these BoM phrases than assuming a Hebrew/Egyptian origin (for the same reason that I expect to see horses rather than zebras when I hear the clip-clop of hooves on my road).

More likely? Based on what exactly? Your personal opinion which equates the likelyhood of horses over zebras? Would your reason be valid if you lived in the Serengeti or next to a zoo? It is not valid here either. Sheeesh.

We have two documents, the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Each claim Hebrew/Egyptian origins. If the latter did not have Hebrew/Egyptian content there would be cause for it to be dismissed. Since both have Hebrew/Egyptian content, you must justify your claims to the contrary, using something other than a clip-clop. Lazy scholarship does not win arguments.

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Sheesh yourself. Since I specifically said "on my road," any mention of zoos and Africa is just nonsense. And yes, oddly enough, I base likelihood on my personal opinion. It's what we do here.

So I take it you find the claims quoted in the initial post convincing, then? You accept the claim that the existence of those words and phrases in the BoM constitute good evidence that it was translated from ancient Hebrew?

If so, upon what do you base the claim that translation from Hebrew is a better explanation for their existence than imitating KJV language style?

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So I take it you find the claims quoted in the initial post convincing, then? You accept the claim that the existence of those words and phrases in the BoM constitute good evidence that it was translated from ancient Hebrew?

If so, upon what do you base the claim that translation from Hebrew is a better explanation for their existence than imitating KJV language style?

Because it is the more reasonable explanation of the two. Have you tried producing a work of fiction in the style of the KJV, such as you claim the Book of Mormon to be? Do you know how hard that is? Do you know of anyone else who had tried it before? The Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon are not confined to a few isolated passages or phrases. All of the book is written in that way. Almost the whole of the Book of Mormon could be converted into authentic biblical Hebrew following those rules. To create such a thing in English purely out of one's own imagination is a near impossible task, even for someone with a perfect knowledge of biblical Hebrew. The alternative explanation is by far the most reasonable one.

If you are already predisposed to rejecting the Book of Mormon as anything other than a work of fiction, then of course you will grasp at anything to reject the alternative; but if you look at it with an impartial and unbiased mind, that is the more logical explanation of the two.

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Pretty much what others have said, that these examples of supposed links to semitic languages are no more than instances of an author aping bible language.

If I am creating a book of scripture that I want to sound like the KJV bible, of course I would include phrases and words that are found in the KJV. Simple as that.

A quick search reveals several examples of these phrases in the bible. Surely you aren't asking to see references for them, are you?

Of your courtesy, would you kindly provide Biblical examples of every identified Book of Mormon semiticism mentioned on the Maxwell Institute website?

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