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Mortal Man

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According to the most recent issue of THE FAIR JOURNAL (April 2011):

“Since the brass plates of Laban were in existence prior to 600 B.C., the Book of Mormon Isaiah is the most ancient scriptural record of Isaiah's writings in existence. It is taken in this work as the standard from which the biblical accounts are evaluated. ...the Book of Mormon Isaiah is, as it claims to be, a copy of an ancient manuscript which predates all the other manuscript versions of Isaiah. ...The differences between the Book of Mormon and King James versions are compared with English translations of the Greek Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate and the Hebrew Masoretic texts... These differences, far from being random variations resulting from inadvertent scribal errors, clearly indicate that the King James and other Bible versions contain intentional deviations from the original meaning”

To help us appreciate the remarkable nature of these claims, I’d like to pose the following multiple-choice question:

Which of the following texts most closely resembles Isaiah’s holograph of 29:11-12?

{A} The KJV:

11 And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed:

12 And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.

{B} The LXX:

11 And all these things shall be to you as the words of this sealed book, which if they shall give to a learned man, saying, Read this, he shall then say, I cannot read it, for it is sealed.

12 And this book shall be given into the hands of a man that is unlearned, and one shall say to him, Read this; and he shall say, I am not learned.

{C} The Latin Vulgate:

11 And the vision of all shall be unto you as the words of a book that is sealed which when they shall deliver to one that is learned, they shall say: Read this: and he shall answer: I cannot, for it is sealed.

12 And the book shall be given to one that knoweth no letters, and it shall be said to him: Read: and he shall answer: I know no letters.

{D} The Qumran Great Isaiah Scroll:

11 And the whole vision has become for you like the words of a book that is sealed which they give to one who knows how to read saying read this please, and he says I am not able because it is sealed.

12 and it is given, the book, to one who does not know how to read saying read this please and he says I do not know how to read.

{E} The JST:

11 And it shall come to pass, that the Lord God shall bring forth unto you the words of a book; and they shall be the words of them which have slumbered.

12 And behold, the book shall be sealed; and in the book shall be a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof.

13 Wherefore because of the things which are sealed up, the things which are sealed shall not be delivered in the day of the wickedness and abominations of the people. Wherefore, the book shall be kept from them.

14 But the book shall be delivered unto a man, and he shall deliver the words of the book, which are the words of those who have slumbered in the dust; and he shall deliver these words unto another, but the words that are sealed he shall not deliver, neither shall he deliver the book.

15 For the book shall be sealed by the power of God, and the revelation which was sealed shall be kept in the book until the own due time of the Lord, that they may come forth; for behold, they reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof.

16 And the day cometh, that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the housetops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be, even unto the end of the earth.

17 Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it, save it be that three witnesses shall behold it by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book and the things therein.

18 And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men; for the Lord God hath said, that the words of the faithful should speak as it were from the dead.

19 Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to bring forth the words of the book; and in the mouth of as many witnesses as seemeth him good will he establish his word; and woe be unto him that rejecteth the word of God.

20 But, behold, it shall come to pass, that the Lord God shall say unto him to whom he shall deliver the book, Take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee.

21 And the learned shall say, Bring hither the book and I will read them; and now because of the glory of the world, and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God. And the man shall say, I cannot bring the book for it is sealed. Then shall the learned say, I cannot read it.

22 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned shall say, I am not learned. Then shall the Lord God say unto him, The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.

23 Touch not the things which are sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time; for I will show unto the children of men that I am able to do mine own work.

24 Wherefore, when thou hast read the words which I have commanded thee, and obtained the witnesses which I have promised unto thee, then shalt thou seal up the book again, and hide it up unto me, that I may preserve the words which thou hast not read until I shall see fit in mine own wisdom to reveal all things unto the children of men.

25 For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men, save it be according to their faith.

26 And again it shall come to pass, that the Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him, Forasmuch as this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precepts of men, therefore I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people; yea, a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise and learned shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid.

{F} The Brass Plates:

6 And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall bring forth unto you the words of a book, and they shall be the words of them which have slumbered.

7 And behold the book shall be sealed; and in the book shall be a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof.

8 Wherefore, because of the things which are sealed up, the things which are sealed shall not be delivered in the day of the wickedness and abominations of the people. Wherefore the book shall be kept from them.

9 But the book shall be delivered unto a man, and he shall deliver the words of the book, which are the words of those who have slumbered in the dust, and he shall deliver these words unto another;

10 But the words which are sealed he shall not deliver; neither shall he deliver the book. For the book shall be sealed by the power of God, and the revelation which was sealed shall be kept in the book until the own due time of the Lord, that they may come forth; for behold, they reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof.

11 And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth.

12 Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it save it be that three witnesses shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book and the things therein.

13 And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men; for the Lord God hath said that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead.

14 Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to bring forth the words of the book; and in the mouth of as many witnesses as seemeth him good will he establish his word; and wo be unto him that rejecteth the word of God!

15 But behold, it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall say unto him to whom he shall deliver the book: Take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying: Read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say: Bring hither the book, and I will read them.

16 And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God.

17 And the man shall say: I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed.

18 Then shall the learned say: I cannot read it.

19 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned shall say: I am not learned.

20 Then shall the Lord God say unto him: The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.

21 Touch not the things which are sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time; for I will show unto the children of men that I am able to do mine own work.

22 Wherefore, when thou hast read the words which I have commanded thee, and obtained the witnesses which I have promised unto thee, then shalt thou seal up the book again, and hide it up unto me, that I may preserve the words which thou hast not read, until I shall see fit in mine own wisdom to reveal all things unto the children of men.

23 For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.

24 And again it shall come to pass that the Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him:

Please choose A, B, C, D, E or F and backup your answer with supporting evidence.

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Moreover, by the addition of the italicized words, a common biblical literary construction called chiasmus has been disrupted. Here is another clue that we are in the presence of inner biblical exegesis. Chiasmus derives etymologically from the Greek letter chi, which looks like an x; chiasmus refers to a rhetorical construction of an a, b; b’, a’ type. In such a construction, the linguistic features of a second line invert (usually by means of synonyms) those of the preceding one.

In Isaiah 29, without the words added by inner biblical exegesis, we have a perfect chiasmus in which a second line is inversely parallel to a first line, literally:

“He has closed your eyes;

Your heads he has cloaked.”

As far as a, b; b’, a’ chiasmi go, people spit them out all the time without even realizing it; e.g.,

"That said, the Hoffman formula can be used to confirm

thickness measurements,

just as thickness measurements

can be used to confirm the results of the Hoffman formula."

-- William Schryver

Moreover, this striking transformation of an oracle against the people into one against false prophets shows the extent to which the interpretive tradition might introduce a new authority into a received tradition, so that these human comments compete with and ultimately transform the focus of the ancient, divine words. The privileged voice of divine revelation and the human voice of instruction have become one. That this paradox not always perceived is a measure of the scribes’ success in subordinating their voice to that of the tradition. Even more paradoxically, in the end it is their interpretations that have become the received tradition; their oral traditions are the written text given to the community.

So, by expanding 2 verses into 19 verses (Brass Plates) and 16 verses (JST), was JS successful in subordinating his voice to the Isaiah tradition?

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As far as a, b; b’, a’ chiasmi go, people spit them out all the time without even realizing it; e.g.,

"That said, the Hoffman formula can be used to confirm

thickness measurements,

just as thickness measurements

can be used to confirm the results of the Hoffman formula."

-- William Schryver

So, by expanding 2 verses into 19 verses (Brass Plates) and 16 verses (JST), was JS successful in subordinating his voice to the Isaiah tradition?

I'm the last person in the world who would use chiastic structures as proof of the BoM's historicity. Fishbane was using a chiastic structure in Isaiah 29 to show why the reading we currently have was not the original, but an early modification to fit a shift in teachings. Since I believe in BoM historicity, I hold that either Nephi or someone prior to him had modified Isaiah 29 to fit what message they were delivering.

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I have strong doubts that the Book of Mormon's Isaiah traditions derive from an ancient Israelite manuscript. They seem to derive, for the most part, from the KJV, with some occasionally-interesting discrepancies which themselves may reflect a more ancient reading.

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According to the most recent issue of THE FAIR JOURNAL (April 2011):

“Since the brass plates of Laban were in existence prior to 600 B.C., the Book of Mormon Isaiah is the most ancient scriptural record of Isaiah's writings in existence. It is taken in this work as the standard from which the biblical accounts are evaluated. ...the Book of Mormon Isaiah is, as it claims to be, a copy of an ancient manuscript which predates all the other manuscript versions of Isaiah. ...The differences between the Book of Mormon and King James versions are compared with English translations of the Greek Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate and the Hebrew Masoretic texts... These differences, far from being random variations resulting from inadvertent scribal errors, clearly indicate that the King James and other Bible versions contain intentional deviations from the original meaning”

To help us appreciate the remarkable nature of these claims, I’d like to pose the following multiple-choice question:

Which of the following texts most closely resembles Isaiah’s holograph of 29:11-12?

* * *

I don't really understand what your question is. The lengthy quote you gave from the Book of Mormon is not, and does not claim to be, a quote or direct translation of Isaiah. It is Nephi's commentary on the relevant verses of Isaiah.

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I hold that either Nephi or someone prior to him had modified Isaiah 29 to fit what message they were delivering.

How did Nephi or someone prior to him get the verses into the JST?

Which letter do you choose?

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I have strong doubts that the Book of Mormon's Isaiah traditions derive from an ancient Israelite manuscript. They seem to derive, for the most part, from the KJV, with some occasionally-interesting discrepancies which themselves may reflect a more ancient reading.

So, which letter do you choose? Does the 2 Nephi 27 discrepancy reflect a more ancient reading than the KJV?

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So, by expanding 2 verses into 19 verses (Brass Plates) and 16 verses (JST), was JS successful in subordinating his voice to the Isaiah tradition?

I have not read the latest FAIR Journal (didn't even know there was one).

We're all fallible, Mortal Man (and Joseph Smith Jr.), and there are several deeply flawed assumptions both in your questions and in the learned anonymous discussion at Scrutable Scriptures , to wit:

Despite what some scholars claim about lectio brevior, both the late William F. Albright and his student the late David Noel Freedman strongly maintained (with plenty of examples) that "losses are more common than glosses" (Albright & Freedman, “The Continuing Revolution in Biblical Research,” JBR, 31/2 (Apr 1963), 112, cited by H. Nibley, Since Cumorah, 2nd ed., CWHN VII:23, and by Jack Lundbom, Jeremiah, 47).

At the same time, midrash, targums, and peshers expand the Scriptural text with commentary or explanatory glosses. Some scholars see the so-called "JST" as heavily midrashic, and, as a long term project of both Joseph Smith & Sidney Rigdon, the results could be placed under a variety of rubrics, from "revelation" to simple "improvements" in text. Since it is not canonical, it need not concern us.

For discussion of midrash in the Book of Mormon, see Blake Ostler, "The Book of Mormon as a Modern Expansion of an Ancient Source," Dialogue, 20/1 (Spring 1987), 66-123 (the recipient of a Silver Award), even though he may see a bit too much midrash there. Years ago, the late Rev. Wesley P. Walters readily agreed with me that the Book of Mormon was very midrashic, and it seems to me certain that II Nephi 27 is a midrash on part of Isaiah 29. At the very same time, one could argue that some of the readings of Isaiah in II Nephi 27 are actually superior to the received text, just as one might expect of a much earlier set of pre-exilic Bronze Plates:

Isa 29:7 "Ariel" etc. -- II Nephi 27:3 reads "Zion" instead, just where the Targum leaves out "Ariel" etc., cf. Isa 29: 8 .

Isa 29:11 "a book" in KJ and MT qere -- II Ne 27:15 (and vs 7), reads "the book" with MT ketib and 1QIsac .

Isa 29:11 KJ "saith" -- II Ne 27:15-16 both read "shall . . . say" with LXX Greek and Targum.

Isa 29:12 KJ "and he saith" -- II Ne 27:19 reads "shall say" with LXX and Targum.

Isa 29:19 KJ nothing -- II Ne 27:30 has "and" with MT Targum and 1QIsa , and second time reading with LXX.

Isa 29:19 KJ nothing -- II Ne 27:30 reads "shall be" with LXX.

Isa 29:21 KJ nothing -- II Ne 27:32 reads "and they" with LXX.

For further examples and more contextual placement, see FARMS' Book of Mormon Critical Text, 3 vols., 2nd ed. (Provo: FARMS, 1986-1987).

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I don't really understand what your question is.

I am asking which text, A, B, C, D, E or F, most closely matches what Isaiah originally wrote down with his own hand upon his own scroll. You might begin by grouping the texts according to length. Do you see any fundamental difference between the first four texts and the last two?

The lengthy quote you gave from the Book of Mormon is not, and does not claim to be, a quote or direct translation of Isaiah.

Oh yes it does. See Section VI, second paragraph.

It is Nephi's commentary on the relevant verses of Isaiah.

How did Nephi get his commentary into the JST?

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MM, how about instead of a quiz, just post what you think with your supporting arguments?

I posted what I think here, along with supporting arguments. I've learned however, that no one wants to read these sorts of things, so I thought a quiz might be easier and more interesting.

But since you ask, here it is in a nutshell:

E clearly depends on F, which contains an excruciatingly detailed account of Martin Harris' visit to Charles Anthon, written not long after his trip. This account was ostensibly copied by Nephi off the Brass Plates, which, according to Gorton et al., is the closest thing we have to the original words of Isaiah. Joseph attributed this prophecy to Isaiah in his journal and in numerous conversations, because that's what Moroni told him. He proved the words were Isaiah's when he found the same text in his Bible translation. The only trouble is, these verses are not Isaiah's. Neither are they Nephi's. There is only one person who could have written these verses. Can you figure out who that might be?

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Despite what some scholars claim about lectio brevior, both the late William F. Albright and his student the late David Noel Freedman strongly maintained (with plenty of examples) that "losses are more common than glosses" (Albright & Freedman, “The Continuing Revolution in Biblical Research,” JBR, 31/2 (Apr 1963), 112, cited by H. Nibley, Since Cumorah, 2nd ed., CWHN VII:23, and by Jack Lundbom, Jeremiah, 47).

My remark on lectio brevior was tongue-in-cheek. 2 Nephi 27:6-24 constitutes such a massive expansion of Isaiah 29:11-12 as to render "lectio brevior" acute litotes.

At the same time, midrash, targums, and peshers expand the Scriptural text with commentary or explanatory glosses. Some scholars see the so-called "JST" as heavily midrashic, and, as a long term project of both Joseph Smith & Sidney Rigdon, the results could be placed under a variety of rubrics, from "revelation" to simple "improvements" in text. Since it is not canonical, it need not concern us.

So you're fine with JS simply copying 2 Nephi 27:6-24 in his "inspired" translation of Isaiah 29:11-12?

For discussion of midrash in the Book of Mormon, see Blake Ostler, "The Book of Mormon as a Modern Expansion of an Ancient Source," Dialogue, 20/1 (Spring 1987), 66-123 (the recipient of a Silver Award), even though he may see a bit too much midrash there.

Yes, I am aware of Ostler's work. He's a heretic like me.

Years ago, the late Rev. Wesley P. Walters readily agreed with me that the Book of Mormon was very midrashic, and it seems to me certain that II Nephi 27 is a midrash on part of Isaiah 29.

Fair enough, but let's be clear that "midrashic" is just a nice way of saying JS wrote himself into the BoM. If that is really your position then you'll get no further trouble from me. Be aware however, that such views are the height of heresy.

At the very same time, one could argue that some of the readings of Isaiah in II Nephi 27 are actually superior to the received text, just as one might expect of a much earlier set of pre-exilic Bronze Plates:

Isa 29:7 "Ariel" etc. -- II Nephi 27:3 reads "Zion" instead, just where the Targum leaves out "Ariel" etc., cf. Isa 29: 8 .

Isa 29:11 "a book" in KJ and MT qere -- II Ne 27:15 (and vs 7), reads "the book" with MT ketib and 1QIsac .

Isa 29:11 KJ "saith" -- II Ne 27:15-16 both read "shall . . . say" with LXX Greek and Targum.

Isa 29:12 KJ "and he saith" -- II Ne 27:19 reads "shall say" with LXX and Targum.

Isa 29:19 KJ nothing -- II Ne 27:30 has "and" with MT Targum and 1QIsa , and second time reading with LXX.

Isa 29:19 KJ nothing -- II Ne 27:30 reads "shall be" with LXX.

Isa 29:21 KJ nothing -- II Ne 27:32 reads "and they" with LXX.

These are extremely minor points compared to the massive addition to the text.

That Joseph Smith wrote pseudepigraphally should come as no surprise to anyone, since that is what Deutero and Trito-Isaiah did.

Neither should it be a surprise that he wrote apocryphally, since that's how most scriptures have been written (most recently The Sealed Portion, which, btw, is teeming with Hebraisms and Semitic complexity).

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So, which letter do you choose? Does the 2 Nephi 27 discrepancy reflect a more ancient reading than the KJV?

2 Nephi 27 does not reflect an ancient reading of Isaiah 29, it reflects an ancient midrash of Isaiah 29. I think 2 Nephi 27's vorlage is older than the KJV, but the translation is strongly influenced by the KJV.

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snapback.pngRobert F. Smith, on 07 May 2011 - 02:19 PM, said:

Despite what some scholars claim about lectio brevior, both the late William F. Albright and his student the late David Noel Freedman strongly maintained (with plenty of examples) that "losses are more common than glosses" (Albright & Freedman, “The Continuing Revolution in Biblical Research,” JBR, 31/2 (Apr 1963), 112, cited by H. Nibley, Since Cumorah, 2nd ed., CWHN VII:23, and by Jack Lundbom, Jeremiah, 47).

My remark on lectio brevior was tongue-in-cheek. 2 Nephi 27:6-24 constitutes such a massive expansion of Isaiah 29:11-12 as to render "lectio brevior" acute litotes.

Still, the concept of lectio brevior (if accepted as normative) should necessarily suggest that the additional material is midrashic. The question then becomes, by whom?

At the same time, midrash, targums, and peshers expand the Scriptural text with commentary or explanatory glosses. Some scholars see the so-called "JST" as heavily midrashic, and, as a long term project of both Joseph Smith & Sidney Rigdon, the results could be placed under a variety of rubrics, from "revelation" to simple "improvements" in text. Since it is not canonical, it need not concern us.

So you're fine with JS simply copying 2 Nephi 27:6-24 in his "inspired" translation of Isaiah 29:11-12?

I'm fine with Nephi having created the midrash on Isaiah. As for copying it wholesale into what is now known among LDS as "the JST," one can speculate about the circumstances under which Sidney Rigdon (or Joseph) did such copying as well as to whether they fully understood the implications. I suggest that they are as fallible as you or me, Mortal Man.

For discussion of midrash in the Book of Mormon, see Blake Ostler, "The Book of Mormon as a Modern Expansion of an Ancient Source,"Dialogue, 20/1 (Spring 1987), 66-123 (the recipient of a Silver Award), even though he may see a bit too much midrash there.

Yes, I am aware of Ostler's work. He's a heretic like me.

I know Blake. I doubt that he would accept that classification, but you are free to send him an email about that and post his reply.

Years ago, the late Rev. Wesley P. Walters readily agreed with me that the Book of Mormon was very midrashic, and it seems to me certain that II Nephi 27 is a midrash on part of Isaiah 29.

Fair enough, but let's be clear that "midrashic" is just a nice way of saying JS wrote himself into the BoM. If that is really your position then you'll get no further trouble from me. Be aware however, that such views are the height of heresy.

Naturally Wes and I each had different conclusions to draw from the same set of facts -- Wes maintaining that Joseph created the Book of Mormon the way a creative writer creates a novel, and me arguing that the midrashic elements were created anciently by Nephi and his successors.

At the very same time, one could argue that some of the readings of Isaiah in II Nephi 27 are actually superior to the received text, just as one might expect of a much earlier set of pre-exilic Bronze Plates:

Isa 29:7 "Ariel" etc. -- II Nephi 27:3 reads "Zion" instead, just where the Targum leaves out "Ariel" etc., cf. Isa 29: 8 .

Isa 29:11 "a book" in KJ and MT qere -- II Ne 27:15 (and vs 7), reads "the book" with MT ketib and 1QIsac .

Isa 29:11 KJ "saith" -- II Ne 27:15-16 both read "shall . . . say" with LXX Greek and Targum.

Isa 29:12 KJ "and he saith" -- II Ne 27:19 reads "shall say" with LXX and Targum.

Isa 29:19 KJ nothing -- II Ne 27:30 has "and" with MT Targum and 1QIsa , and second time reading with LXX.

Isa 29:19 KJ nothing -- II Ne 27:30 reads "shall be" with LXX.

Isa 29:21 KJ nothing -- II Ne 27:32 reads "and they" with LXX.

These are extremely minor points compared to the massive addition to the text.

Minor, yes, but without any suggestion that "the massive addition" you point to is anything other than midrash/commentary added by Nephi himself to what lay before him on the Bronze Plates of Laban -- in standard ancient Egyptian.

In assaying the Isaiah question, Hugh Nibley astutely pointed out a long time ago (for Isa 48-49) that "the Book of Mormon conflicts with the King James Bible in the same verses in which the Septuagint and the Masorete texts conflict!" (Nibley, Since Cumorah, 2nd ed., 114) He then goes on to cite a number of major differences which can only be explained by Nephi having had access to a preexilic Vorlage of Isaiah -- something completely out of reach of Joseph Smith.

That Joseph Smith wrote pseudepigraphally should come as no surprise to anyone, since that is what Deutero and Trito-Isaiah did.

Neither should it be a surprise that he wrote apocryphally, since that's how most scriptures have been written (most recently The Sealed Portion, which, btw, is teeming with Hebraisms and Semitic complexity).

The only parallels which should be of interest to us in diagnosing the origin of the language of the Book of Mormon are Hebraisms and Egyptianisms which are not known via the KJV and are also out of character in English expression (in Joseph's time).

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2 Nephi 27 does not reflect an ancient reading of Isaiah 29, it reflects an ancient midrash of Isaiah 29. I think 2 Nephi 27's vorlage is older than the KJV, but the translation is strongly influenced by the KJV.

What evidence do you have to suggest 2 Nephi 27’s vorlage is older than the KJV?

Given that an increasing number of LDS scholars are coming to the conclusion that Isaiah 29 has nothing to do with the BoM, why should we suppose God misled some ancient redactor to create a “misrash” (cool new word I just invented) of some future book?

Exactly whose misrash did JS put into his inspired Bible translation?

Wouldn’t the sealed book prophecy have been more impressive if JS had translated it before Martin’s visit to Charles Anthon?

Wouldn’t it be more convincing if the “unlearned man” were not the very same person who did the translating?

Isn’t it odd that the Three Witnesses, despite their fascination with the engravings, didn’t seem to notice the sealed portion?

Isn’t it odd that the Eight Witnesses, despite “handling” and “hefting” the various “leaves”, made no mention that most of them were sealed?

Can you point to any pre-1829 text to show the sealed-book pericope originated prior to Joseph Smith?

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What evidence do you have to suggest 2 Nephi 27’s vorlage is older than the KJV?

That question might be rephrased, What evidence do you have that the Book of Mormon is a translation of an ancient text? Which is a topic that has been exhausted on this board and other venues.

Given that an increasing number of LDS scholars are coming to the conclusion that Isaiah 29 has nothing to do with the BoM, why should we suppose God misled some ancient redactor to create a “misrash” (cool new word I just invented) of some future book?

Perhaps because the future book was the book that the ancient redactor was writing. Other than that I can only guess.

I haven't posted here in a while. It's interesting to notice how posters change in that time.

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I love reading your material Andrew. What always becomes very clear to me is that you really don't have any idea what you are talking about - it's not about being accurate, its only about the polemic. Let's talk just for a moment about chiasmus.

What is chiasmus? It is a rhetorical form (you call it a "figure of speech"). What does that mean? It means that it was intended by an author. The wikipedia article on the phrase (to use an easily accessible resource) tells us that a figure of speech is intended to change the meaning of the text. So when you suggest this (as you did in your blog from May 1, 2011):

Short chiasmi occur naturally and unintentionally in virtually all writing;
We can all see that this is completely wrong. Chiasmus cannot occur naturally and unintentionally. Chiastic structures (which is not a figure of speech at all but simply a random pattern that can be observed in a text) do in fact occur naturally and unintentionally, and of course can be found in any sufficiently lengthy body of text. But, to suggest that a random occurrence of text that can be formatted to such a pattern is in fact a "figure of speech" or that it somehow constitutes the equivalent of a Hebraism is pure nonsense.

One of the reasons why we see chiamsus in Hebrew literature (and while you may know this already, it doesn't seem to have registered properly, so it bears some repeating I think) is that it stands out. Much of our Biblical literature is presented poetically. When we get line after line of parallelisms (of the normal type, and not the inverted type) and then we see a chiasmus which changes the pattern, we suspect that it is probably not a change that occurs merely by accident, that is, unintentionally or naturally. (This is true by the way of most of these kinds of issues - the longest Psalm - Psalm 119, for example, has a repeating pattern where blocks of 8 lines - each starting with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet - are used, and these blocks move sequentially through the entire Hebrew alphabet. There is no doubt that this was intentional. Chiasmus is likewise intentional. And if all we want to do is argue about whether or not we can format a text into a pattern - a purely structural pattern - then no one is going to disagree with you - except on the point that it is not a figure of speech, it is not necessarily intentional, and it is not something that might be labeled a hebraism.

Obviously, any real discussion about chiasmus (and there are many of them), involve discussions about the intentions of the author and the meaning of the chiasmus within the text. Without such a discussion, the examples that you raise of naturally occurring but unintentional structures is nothing more than a red herring. Robert Patterson's work has a similar fatal flaw. Neither your comments nor his resemble any serious work done by Hebraicists (or other ancient languages since of course chaismsus as a figure of speech is not limited to ancient Hebrew) on the issue of chiasmus. It is patently clear (at least to me) that you are playing little games.

Now to get back to this thread let me offer some thoughts.

First, you provide a lengthy excerpt from the FAIR Journal. This is fine, but it actually comes in the section on books added to the FAIR bookstore. The quote is taken directly from the author of the book ( http://www.davidgorton.com/Father/Books/legacy.html ). The author (to the best of my knowledge) isn't a member of FAIR. The text wasn't written by FAIR. And so the first point, quite simply, is that the opinions of the author do not represent the opinions of FAIR or its members. Some of those members may agree with the author, I do not. Having said that, and recognizing that it isn't really all that consequential to your argument, lets talk about Isaiah 29 in the Book of Mormon.

I think that there is a serious flaw in your proposal Andrew. It stems from your justification for including the Book of Mormon text as representative of Isaiah 29. In fact, you tell us (from your blog):

The trouble with assigning the extraneous verses to Nephi is that it creates more problems than it solves.
Andrew then ennumerates five specific reasons. I want to point out of couple of things that are relevant and that challenge Andrew's thinking in a significant way.

First, Isaiah 29 isn't quoted as a single piece in 2 Nephi 27. I know, the header tends to lead us toward this thinking. But, in fact, the header and the chapter break aren't very helpful in resolving this question. The first two verses of Isaiah 29 are never quoted in the Book of Mormon. In fact, in chapter 27 of 2 Nephi, we start with verse 6 from Isaiah 29. But, the narrative unit in the Book of Mormon actually contains reinscriptions or paraphrases of verses 3, 4 and 5. Where? In 2 Nephi 26. The use of Isaiah 29 spans 2 Nephi 26:14 - 27:35 (we will consider the first verse of Chapter 28 also, as it works as a transition and is relevant to this question).

How does Nephi introduces this section of text? 26:14 reads:

But behold, I prophesy unto you concerning the last days; concerning the days when the Lord God shall bring these things forth unto the children of men.
So this is a prophecy - not of Isaiah, but of Nephi. And moving on to verse 15:
After my seed and the seed of my brethren shall have dwindled in unbelief, and shall have been smitten by the Gentiles; yea, after the Lord God shall have camped against them round about, and shall have laid siege against them with a mount, and raised forts against them; and after they shall have been brought down low in the dust, even that they are not, yet the words of the righteous shall be written, and the prayers of the faithful shall be heard, and all those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not be forgotten.
So where does this come from? Well, the first part is clearly from Nephi, right? But, lets compare this verse to Isaiah 29:3-4:
And I will camp against thee round about, and will lay siege against thee with a mount, and I will raise forts against thee. And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.
So Nephi has applied Isaiah 29:3 to his people - if we repeat the verse from 2 Nephi again and bold the language that is related:
After my seed and the seed of my brethren shall have dwindled in unbelief, and shall have been smitten by the Gentiles; yea, after the Lord God shall have camped against them round about, and shall have laid siege against them with a mount, and raised forts against them; and after they shall have been brought down low in the dust, even that they are not, yet the words of the righteous shall be written, and the prayers of the faithful shall be heard, and all those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not be forgotten.
So, Nephi has incorporated Isaiah 29:3-4a here into his text - into his own prophecy. We might continue - here is 2 Nephi 26:16 (and I have bolded the parts that refer back to Isaiah 29:4):
For those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him power, that he may whisper concerning them, even as it were out of the ground; and their speech shall whisper out of the dust.
What do we see here? We see commentary mingled with the text of Isaiah - being applied to Nephi's vision of his descendants. Verse 17 of 2 Nephi is all Nephi, and then we get verse 18:
Wherefore, as those who have been destroyed have been destroyed speedily; and the multitude of their terrible ones shall be as chaff that passeth away—yea, thus saith the Lord God: It shall be at an instant, suddenly—
Now, I don't need to bold any of this I suppose, but this comes from Isaiah 29:5:
Moreover the multitude of thy strangers shall be like small dust, and the multitude of the terrible ones shall be as chaff that passeth away: yea, it shall be at an instant suddenly.
I note with some curiosity that Nephi has left the first part of this verse out. But, then we have verses 19-33 which are not a part of Isaiah 29. And then in 2 Nephi 27:2 (16 verses later) we reconnect with Isaiah 29, and pick up again starting with Isaiah 29:6. And then we get into the parts you discuss - but the pattern continues to persist. Nephi writing about his prophecy, explaining it through a lens of Isaiah 29.

So, in Andrew's enumerated reasons as to why Nephi cannot be simply applying Isaiah 29 to himself and adding his own comments, Andrew tells us this:

Firstly, Nephi’s habit of likening the scriptures unto himself offers no support for this thesis, since neither the learned nor unlearned man refer to him or anyone else in his spatial or temporal locality. If anyone was likening the scriptures unto himself, it was Joseph Smith.
This is generally true - but what Andrew has missed is that Nephi calls it his "prophecy of the last days" - so we wouldn't expect it to refer to Nephi. We might (assuming prophecy really happens) expect that Nephi might be making a prophecy about Joseph Smith. Now, I know that this doesn't resolve the underlying presupposition that Andrew has, that the prophecy in the Book of Mormon was simply a means that Joseph used to convince those who were helping him of the nature of his calling. But that's not really the issue here when Andrew is making his assertions about a holograph of Isaiah. Nephi doesn't make an explicit statement that he is likening the scriptures unto himself here (he already did that in 2 Nephi Chapter 11, where he describes what he is doing - and even earlier we have some examples provided in the text that Nephi records of his brother Jacob's teachings). But it seems quite obvious that this is exactly what Nephi is doing in 2 Nephi 26:14-27:35. Andrew's protests simply suggest he didn't bother looking at Chapter 26 - probably because he expected that the header material which references Isaiah 29 suggested that it was similar to the other chapters of Isaiah that are generally quoted nearly verbatim.
Secondly, if Nephi can assign unprecedented new meaning to scripture, then why can’t Joseph? What purpose does the middle-man serve?
I think this is a really valid point - and it even probably occurred from time to time. Although if we take it at face value that the Book of Mormon is an ancient text, then we can assume that whether or not there was a need for a middle man, there was in this case a middle man. And Joseph Smith reapplied the text of the Book of Mormon back on to Isaiah. What is equally interesting is that in the JST we only get the bit that you point out that Nephi introduced around verses 11 and 12. We don't get any of the extra material Nephi introduced around verses 3-5 (which was even longer). This suggests to me quite strongly that Joseph was taking his cues from the Book of Mormon and that the JST for that section includes these expansions that simply were not in the original text of Isaiah. I don't know how Joseph Smith himself understood these additions to the JST - he may have understood them (incorrectly) as belonging originally to Isaiah, or he may have understood them as coming from Nephi, but having explanatory value.
Thirdly, the embellishment in 2 Nephi 27 is bracketed by verses 10 and 13 in Isaiah 29 and the entire chapter proceeds in a single unbroken voice (there is no, “And now I, Nephi, do speak somewhat concerning the words of Isaiah…”).
This is simply wrong (as should be patently obvious at this point). And in fact, Nephi doesn't mention Isaiah, he calls it his own prophecy. Which means that it doesn't just meet this minimal standard that Andrew presents, it goes much farther.
Fourthly, since the Brass Plates served as the basic scriptures of the Nephite nation, and were passed down by all the major prophets from Nephi to Mormon, any alteration of the words of Isaiah could not have gone unnoticed; i.e., metal engravings are not easily erased.
However, in the context it is given, it would not be such a big deal. I think though that this thought deserves a bit more consideration. The Small Plates (where this prophecy is recorded) did not enjoy public circulation. They were not well known, they were not widely distributed - and the rest of the Book of Mormon is quite clear on this point. So, even if we weren't dealing with such a flawed understanding of the text as Andrew presents, I am not sure this would be a valid suggestion.
Fifthly, Joseph Smith never attributed the extra verses to Nephi. In all of his writings, translations and oral communications he credited the prophesy to Isaiah. If the extra verses are Nephi’s, then we must conclude not only that Joseph was confused about their author but also that the Lord deliberately misled him in translating the Bible.
And here, I would tend to agree with the first part. I have no problems with Joseph being wrong. I don't think that Joseph was terribly biblically literate early on. However, I think that the last part involves a great many assumptions about the nature of the JST that I certainly don't accept, and that many other don't accept. Although I suppose that it is in Andrew's interests to enhance a certain perspective of Mormon thought that helps him argue his points.

My thoughts on the original question in the OP? The Dead Sea Scrolls text is probably closer to the holograph than any of the others - although how close it really is, but even what that means (to be closer to a non-existent urtext) might also be up for debate.

Ben M.

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I love reading your material Andrew.

Why thank you Ben, and kudos to you for being the only apologist willing to attempt a substantive response to my essay.

What always becomes very clear to me is that you really don't have any idea what you are talking about - it's not about being accurate, its only about the polemic.

There is nothing polemical in my essay. It is entirely free of ad hominem attacks, unlike your statement above.

Let's talk just for a moment about chiasmus.

Okay, although it has nothing to do with the OP.

What is chiasmus? It is a rhetorical form (you call it a "figure of speech").

Yes, “figure of speech” was a poor choice of words. I have edited it out of the blog entry (although other people have called it that).

What does that mean? It means that it was intended by an author.

...

Chiasmus cannot occur naturally and unintentionally.

You are attempting to define chiasmus as a deliberate rhetorical form in order to force your point, but the fact remains that the inverted parallelism of which you speak does indeed occur naturally and unintentionally in both poetry and prose. I came to this conclusion when I discovered it in my own writing completely by accident. I was writing a technical paper (nothing to do with religion) when it suddenly hit me that the paragraph I had just written was a perfect ABCCBA chiasmus. It was both poetic and completely unintentional. This is my testimony of chiasmus.

Chiastic structures... do in fact occur naturally and unintentionally, and of course can be found in any sufficiently lengthy body of text.

I agree.

But, to suggest that a random occurrence of text that can be formatted to such a pattern is in fact a "figure of speech" or that it somehow constitutes the equivalent of a Hebraism is pure nonsense.

I never said either of those things.

It is patently clear (at least to me) that you are playing little games.

I’m simply stating that there are no deliberate chiasmi in the BoM, other than the ones transported from the KJV. It’s the apologists who are playing “Find the Chiasmus!” as if the BoM were Where’s Waldo?

CONTINUED...

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First, Isaiah 29 isn't quoted as a single piece in 2 Nephi 27.

From verse 6 to the end it is.

I know, the header tends to lead us toward this thinking.

I don’t care about the header.

But, in fact, the header and the chapter break aren't very helpful in resolving this question.

The chapter breaks aren’t helpful eh? Well, let’s see... Nephi quotes Isaiah 29 to the end of the KJV chapter then stops. The 2 Nephi 27/28 chapter break in the printer’s manuscript, 1830 edition and modern edition coincides with the Isaiah 29/30 chapter break in the KJV Bible. Furthermore, Nephi copies the KJV mistranslation, “offender for a word”, in verse 32. How did Nephi get a KJV Bible?

The first two verses of Isaiah 29 are never quoted in the Book of Mormon.

That’s because they’re clearly addressed to Jerusalem. It was simply beyond Joseph Smith's translating powers to turn “Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt!” into a prophecy about Charles Anthon.

In fact, in chapter 27 of 2 Nephi, we start with verse 6 from Isaiah 29. But, the narrative unit in the Book of Mormon actually contains reinscriptions or paraphrases of verses 3, 4 and 5. Where? In 2 Nephi 26. The use of Isaiah 29 spans 2 Nephi 26:14 - 27:35

2 Nephi 27 constitutes a single literary unit. After providing an introduction in verse 1, the author works his way through Isaiah 29 until he hits the end of the KJV chapter. The fact that other verses are quoted elsewhere is irrelevant.

Nephi writing about his prophecy, explaining it through a lens of Isaiah 29.

This is driven by nothing but apologetic necessity. If Joseph Smith were here posting on this board today, he would tell you that the words are all Isaiah’s. And he wouldn’t be happy about you throwing his JST under the bus.

...Nephi calls it his "prophecy of the last days" - so we wouldn't expect it to refer to Nephi. We might (assuming prophecy really happens) expect that Nephi might be making a prophecy about Joseph Smith.

Do you think it’s more likely in the next General Conference that Pres. Monson will tell us what we need to know today or that he will prophesy about the coming forth of the Sealed Portion 2380 years from now, thousands of miles away, including all the gory details about how learned/unlearned the various actors will be, who will deliver the book to whom, what everybody will say etc., etc., etc.,? Furthermore, do you think it would help his prophecy if he based it on a gross misinterpretation of a Bible passage?

Andrew's protests simply suggest he didn't bother looking at Chapter 26

Wrong.

- probably because he expected that the header material which references Isaiah 29 suggested that it was similar to the other chapters of Isaiah that are generally quoted nearly verbatim.

You seem obsessed with the header. I’m not.

My thoughts on the original question in the OP? The Dead Sea Scrolls text is probably closer to the holograph than any of the others

I agree.

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You are attempting to define chiasmus as a deliberate rhetorical form in order to force your point, but the fact remains that the inverted parallelism of which you speak does indeed occur naturally and unintentionally in both poetry and prose. I came to this conclusion when I discovered it in my own writing completely by accident. I was writing a technical paper (nothing to do with religion) when it suddenly hit me that the paragraph I had just written was a perfect ABCCBA chiasmus. It was both poetic and completely unintentional. This is my testimony of chiasmus.

I’m simply stating that there are no deliberate chiasmi in the BoM, other than the ones transported from the KJV. It’s the apologists who are playing “Find the Chiasmus!” as if the BoM were Where’s Waldo?.

While it is true that chiasmus can appear accidentally or unintentionally (at least at the subconscious level), it is a matter of strong consensus among biblical scholars that chiasmus can be deliberately employed -- as can a number of other rhetorical or literary structures -- by a great maestro in the midst of composition. Jack Welch has shown in detail and with a plethora of examples that this is certainly true of the Book of Mormon.

In his latest book, David P. Wright argues that, although "scholars must be more circumspect in the analysis of chiastic structures. . . . I now recognize that the structure in [Exodus] 23:1-8 and its derivation from a similar structure in LH [Laws of Hammurabi] is one of the most solid proofs of the intentional formation of chiasmus in antiquity" (Wright, Inventing God's Law: How the Covenant Code of the Bible Used and Revised the Laws of Hammurabi [Oxford Univ. Press, 2009], 378 n.15). Wright says that "Exodus 23;1-8 exhibits a chiastic structure that must be judged to have been intentionally crafted in view of its complexity and tightness, as well as in its extension by the two strings of the final apodictic laws" (64).

Wright's late teacher, Jacob Milgrom, published a massive three-volume translation-commentary on the book of Leviticus for the Anchor Bible (Doubleday, 1991-2000) in which virtually every chapter contains detailed diagrams and extensive discussion of the profusion of chiasms which he found therein. Based on that detailed analysis, Milgrom was able to say that the Holiness (H) Code tradition was "more artful and intricate [than P] in its use" of chiasmus (I:39). Milgrom also maintained that "chiastic arrangement" "aids significantly in . . . exegesis" of texts (I:683-684). Indeed, Milgrom concluded from the chiasm of Leviticus 18 - 20, with chapter 19 at the center, "may well be the intended climactic center for the book of Leviticus and even for the Torah as a whole" (II:1320). He likewise finds that the introversion at Lev 24:13-23 is "a major summit of H's structural artistry" -- with the Lex Talionis at center (II:1321). He concludes that "H's aesthetic arrangement of the text [Lev 26:3-12] may primarily have a kerygmatic goal. Hence structure is theology" (II:1322).

For some of us mortal men, this is serious business, not merely a game.

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Andrew writes:

There is nothing polemical in my essay. It is entirely free of ad hominem attacks, unlike your statement above.
Being "free of ad hominem attacks" isn't a criteria for being non-polemical Andrew. What you write is clearly polemical. And, I don't mind throwing in an occasional ad hominem attack. I think that you deserve it. As we all know, while ad hominem can sometimes be used improperly, in some instances, it is entirely appropriate. Here I think, in particular, it is rather a valid issue that I raise. You like to use a lot of scholarly lingo - but there is very, very little substance behind it, and most of what I read from you (and this is of course just my personal perspective) demonstrates a rather profound lack of perspective. Now you are absolutely right, it could just be me - but I thought I made a pretty good evidentiary argument to back up my point.
Okay, although it has nothing to do with the OP.
It did however have something to do with this comment that you made:
That Joseph Smith wrote pseudepigraphally should come as no surprise to anyone, since that is what Deutero and Trito-Isaiah did.

Neither should it be a surprise that he wrote apocryphally, since that's how most scriptures have been written (most recently The Sealed Portion, which, btw, is teeming with Hebraisms and Semitic complexity).

In which you linked to your other blog entry that dealt with this issue in some detail. The problem of course is that when you talk about something "teeming with Hebraisms and Semitic complexity" and then link to a blog article which has completely misrepresented the issue, it occurred to me as a good place to start. And I think that it needed to be said in part because while you use terms like Hebraisms and chiasmus and "figure of speech" what you write indicates that you don't have much functional knowledge on these issues at all. And I am simply calling you out on the proverbial carpet for it.
You are attempting to define chiasmus as a deliberate rhetorical form in order to force your point, but the fact remains that the inverted parallelism of which you speak does indeed occur naturally and unintentionally in both poetry and prose. I came to this conclusion when I discovered it in my own writing completely by accident. I was writing a technical paper (nothing to do with religion) when it suddenly hit me that the paragraph I had just written was a perfect ABCCBA chiasmus. It was both poetic and completely unintentional. This is my testimony of chiasmus.
I don't define chiasmus as a deliberate rhetorical form in order to force a point. A chiasmus is defined as a deliberate rhetorical form (a term, by the way that is redundant - if it is 'rhetorical' it is intentional). From the wikipedia - "In rhetoric, chiasmus is the figure of speech in which two or more clauses are related to each other through a reversal of structures in order to make a larger point; that is, the clauses display inverted parallelism." The more recent 2001 Oxford Encyclopedia of Rhetoric describes it as a rhetorical "device that has to do with a particular arrangement of the syntagmatic constituents of a statement ..." Chiasmus is not merely an inverted parallelism. Being able to construct parallelisms in a chaistic structure is itself completely uninteresting. You can do this with any sufficiently large text. Chiasmus - particularly when we talk about Hebraisms and the like is ALWAYS intentional. To compare an intentional chaismus with an accidental chiastic structure is to create an argument about nothing. And, even if you accidentally wrote a chiasmus, it certainly wasn't poetry (even if you found it poetic after the fact). Discussions of intent are always at the heart of any issue of rhetoric. Now, we run into a different problem here. Because, as my experience tells me, your chiasmus here is not actually accidental (despite the fact that you may deny it). It never is in these kinds of discussions. But what you intended by it may be open to debate. For those of you who missed it, Andrew was trying to be clever when he provided us with this:

A I came to this conclusion

B when I discovered it in my own writing completely by accident.

B' I was writing a technical paper (nothing to do with religion)

A' when it suddenly hit me that the paragraph I had just written was a perfect ABCCBA chiasmus.

I am not all that terribly impressed.

I never said either of those things.
Perhaps the one I want to focus on is this statement:
So what happens if we embark on an apologetic hunt for Hebraisms in some other book of known authorship? Robert Patterson has applied the same methodologies to Green Eggs & Ham as apologists have applied to the Book of Mormon and found Dr. Seuss’ text to be packed full of Hebraisms and teeming with literary and Semitic complexity.
Now this is quite interesting because I have read Patterson's article (and I am sure that you have too). I am not sure you have actually read much LDS literature on Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon. The entire extent of Patternson's discussion on identifying chiasmus reads as follows:
Hebraicisms may be defined as writings that reflect a Semitic influence in cognates, syntax, or grammatical accent. Chiasmus, also known as inverted parallelism, is an ancient poetic method that states a series of ideas (ABC ...) and then repeats them in reverse order (... CBA).
That's it. On the other hand, in the Edwards and Edwards discussion (BYU Studies - "Does Chiasmus Appear in the Book of Mormon by Chance?"), we read this:
Short Chiasms are not uncommon in literature. In some cases, the authors undoubtedly intended to use that form for literary effect (that is, by design); in other cases, the elements fall into that form without author intent (that is, by chance).
Edwards and Edwards then go on to present a detailed discussion and a method for determining which case a proposed chiasmus falls into - intention figure, or accidental form. This is nothing like Patterson (or yourself of course). There is, as I am sure, a bit of irony in your blog post. After all, you provide us with "Old King Cole" as an example of chiasmus - but you aren't the first to do this in this particular discussion. John Welch discusses that example in his 1969 article "Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon" also published in BYU Studies. There he tells us (speaking of that particular bit of poetry along with a couple of others):
The reader, however, will notice that all these chiasms contain only two elements whose order is then reversed. This is a significant factor in differentiating the chiasmus known for some time in the West from the chiasmus characteristic of ancient Hebrew.
What does that tell us? That ABBA patterns are not considered (at least by John Welch) to be something that is identified as a Hebraism. And so your entire blog article deals with severe flaws - you aren't looking for Hebraisms in the same way the LDS apologists have approached the Book of Mormon, and you find things that LDS apologists have already rejected as being similar to ancient hebraisms. And the challenges - the things that differentiate your suggestions from the work of those apologists is that you use (following other like Patterson who also engage in polemical writings on the subject) such superficial and meaningless definitions that real consideration becomes practically impossible.
I’m simply stating that there are no deliberate chiasmi in the BoM, other than the ones transported from the KJV. It’s the apologists who are playing “Find the Chiasmus!” as if the BoM were Where’s Waldo?.
And I am telling you that this is a polemical argument. And I am telling you that your argument is based on a flawed and overly simplistic idea of what chiasmus is. And I am telling you that by comparing your own understanding of chiasmus (at least as you present it) to that of the LDS apologists have have written a great deal on the subject, you are erecting a straw man that you then knock down with abandon. But truth be told, you present a meaningless argument - completely meaningless. And as I indicated from the beginning, it tells me that you have no substantial background at all in dealing with arguments about rhetoric in general and chiasmus specifically. You seem to be spouting off based on your own reading of the superficial polemic.

To keep the discussions separate, I will respond to your other comments in a different post.

Ben M.

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