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Slippery Treasures and EModE


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In Helaman 13, Samuel the Lamanite gives dire prophetic warnings to the Nephites from the walls of Zarahemla. He predicts their destruction will come in 400 years as the result of wickedness, rejecting the Prophets,  pride, and seeking after wealth. He warns, 

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....ye are cursed because of your riches, and also are your riches cursed because ye have set your hearts upon them, and have not hearkened unto the words of him who gave them unto you.

Then he says, 

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And behold, the time cometh that he curseth your riches, that they become slippery, that ye cannot hold them; and in the days of your poverty ye cannot retain them....Yea, we have hid up our treasures and they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land....Yea, in that day ye shall say: O that we had remembered the Lord our God in the day that he gave us our riches, and then they would not have become slippery that we should lose them; for behold, our riches are gone from us.

Two questions:

1. Is anyone aware of other literary references to such notions as slippery treasure, tools, swords, etc., especially in the Early Moden English time period?

2. This is often used by BoM critics as evidence Joseph Smith was writing from his experience with the treasure-seeking atmosphere in early 19th-century upstate New York. Does the EModE theory that Joseph was not the author of the BoM text but was reading someone else’s words, whatever their source, resolve this issue?

Edited by Bernard Gui
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According to Martin Harris:

“Three of us took some tools to go to the hill and hunt for more boxes of gold or something, and indeed we found a stone box. We got quite excited about it and dug carefully around it, and by some unseen power it slipped back into the hill. We stood there and looked at it and one of us took a crow-bar and tried to drive it through the lid and hold it, but the bar glanced off and broke off one of the corners of the box. Sometime that box will be found and you will see the corner broken off, and then you will know I have told you the truth (The Last Testimony of Martin Harris, E. Cecil McGavin in The Instructor, October 1930, Vol 65, No 10, pp 587-589)

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3 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

In Helaman 13, Samuel the Lamanite gives dire prophetic warnings to the Nephites from the walls of Zarahemla. He predicts their destruction will come in 400 years as the result of wickedness, rejecting the Prophets,  pride, and seeking after wealth. He warns, 

Then he says, 

Two questions:

1. Is anyone aware of other literary references to such notions as slippery treasure, tools, swords, etc., especially in the Early Moden English time period?

2. This is often used by BoM critics as evidence Joseph Smith was writing from his experience with the treasure-seeking atmosphere in early 19th-century upstate New York. Does the EModE theory that Joseph was not the author of the BoM text but was reading someone else’s words, whatever their source, resolve this issue?

I don’t know the answer to your question, but this is one of those passages that sticks out in glaring contrast to the EmodE data since it seems so strongly influenced by treasure hunting or folk magic culture.

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5 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

2. This is often used by BoM critics as evidence Joseph Smith was writing from his experience with the treasure-seeking atmosphere in early 19th-century upstate New York. Does the EModE theory that Joseph was not the author of the BoM text but was reading someone else’s words, whatever their source, resolve this issue?

No. The slippery treasures reference in the book of mormon look too much like an apology for his criminal glass looking practices.

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44 minutes ago, Exiled said:

No. The slippery treasures reference in the book of mormon look too much like an apology for his criminal glass looking practices.

Please stay out if you can’t be civil. 

 

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7 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

1. Is anyone aware of other literary references to such notions as slippery treasure, tools, swords, etc., especially in the Early Modern English time period?

The references to slippery treasures remind me of stories of jinn in Arabic texts. Accounts of jinn as treasure guardians are not uncommon in medieval texts such as the Arabic versions of the Alexander Romance.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasure_guardians_in_folklore

Jinn often take the form of an animal, such as a serpent or a salamander, and the treasure seeker must follow the rules given by the jinn. If the rules aren't followed, or some taboo is committed, the treasure will be removed. In some cases the seeker will be struck by a supernatural power and will experience paralysis or some other effect.

Curiously, in the Malay tradition the entity that guards the treasure is known as Maroni. This, of course, is one of the original spellings of Moroni.

Edited by Rajah Manchou
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8 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

In Helaman 13, Samuel the Lamanite gives dire prophetic warnings to the Nephites from the walls of Zarahemla. He predicts their destruction will come in 400 years as the result of wickedness, rejecting the Prophets,  pride, and seeking after wealth. He warns, 

Then he says, 

Two questions:

1. Is anyone aware of other literary references to such notions as slippery treasure, tools, swords, etc., especially in the Early Moden English time period?

2. This is often used by BoM critics as evidence Joseph Smith was writing from his experience with the treasure-seeking atmosphere in early 19th-century upstate New York. Does the EModE theory that Joseph was not the author of the BoM text but was reading someone else’s words, whatever their source, resolve this issue?

The same, but larger question obtains when Joseph is thought to have been  a Renaissance magus.  The magi were far more powerful in EModE times than in the later period of Joseph Smith.  We hear only of Luman Walters the Magician, as though he had passed on his knowledge to young Joseph.  Brodie and Quinn mention Walters, but cannot show that he had any contact whatever with Joseph.  The actual translator of the BofM may as well have been Dr. John Dee.

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9 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

In Helaman 13, Samuel the Lamanite gives dire prophetic warnings to the Nephites from the walls of Zarahemla. He predicts their destruction will come in 400 years as the result of wickedness, rejecting the Prophets,  pride, and seeking after wealth. He warns, 

Then he says, 

Two questions:

1. Is anyone aware of other literary references to such notions as slippery treasure, tools, swords, etc., especially in the Early Moden English time period?

2. This is often used by BoM critics as evidence Joseph Smith was writing from his experience with the treasure-seeking atmosphere in early 19th-century upstate New York. Does the EModE theory that Joseph was not the author of the BoM text but was reading someone else’s words, whatever their source, resolve this issue?

It was quite common in the early modern period for people to bury their valuables when armies invaded their lands (source). This makes Helaman 13:20 applicable to early modern times:

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And the day shall come that they shall hide up their treasures, because they have set their hearts upon riches; and because they have set their hearts upon their riches, and will hide up their treasures when they shall flee before their enemies. . .

Sometimes buried treasures were not recovered as we see from these early modern anecdotes.

Capture.JPG.d17f251a3db23282898a4f4fced74918.JPG

Although people in Joseph's time were treasure seekers, treasure hunting was actually more prominent in early modern times as seen by a host of legislation and local folklore. Treasure hiding does not seem to be an important part of Joseph's milieu, though. But treasure hiding definitely was an early modern phenomena. Helaman 13 is more about treasure hiding than it is about treasure seeking. The discussion in this chapter thus makes a lot of sense from an early modern perspective.

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1 hour ago, JarMan said:

Although people in Joseph's time were treasure seekers, treasure hunting was actually more prominent in early modern times as seen by a host of legislation and local folklore. Treasure hiding does not seem to be an important part of Joseph's milieu, though. But treasure hiding definitely was an early modern phenomena. Helaman 13 is more about treasure hiding than it is about treasure seeking. The discussion in this chapter thus makes a lot of sense from an early modern perspective.

Treasure hiding is universal. People in many parts of the world still hide their gold chains in the garden. Its the slippery treasure "curse" that comes from bad behavior that would be unique. 

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1 hour ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Treasure hiding is universal. People in many parts of the world still hide their gold chains in the garden. Its the slippery treasure "curse" that comes from bad behavior that would be unique. 

Yes. IIRC, many Jews hid valuables hoping to recover them later during the Holocaust. In context the prophecy and its fulfillment in Mormon have to do both with hiding treasure to protect it during war and the cursing of the land, but not the digging for treasure and have it elude discovery.

Quote

Mormon 1:18 And these Gadianton robbers, who were among the Lamanites, did infest the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof began to hide up their treasures in the earth; and they became slippery, because the Lord had cursed the land, that they could not hold them, nor retain them again.
19 And it came to pass that there were sorceries, and witchcrafts, and magics; and the power of the evil one was wrought upon all the face of the land, even unto the fulfilling of all the words of Abinadi, and also Samuel the Lamanite.

 

4 hours ago, Exiled said:

How is this not civil?

It derails the topic in a derogatory manner. If you have something worthwhile on topic, please contribute. If you are just going to take derailing potshots, no thanks.

Edited by Bernard Gui
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5 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

The references to slippery treasures remind me of stories of jinn in Arabic texts. Accounts of jinn as treasure guardians are not uncommon in medieval texts such as the Arabic versions of the Alexander Romance.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasure_guardians_in_folklore

Jinn often take the form of an animal, such as a serpent or a salamander, and the treasure seeker must follow the rules given by the jinn. If the rules aren't followed, or some taboo is committed, the treasure will be removed. In some cases the seeker will be struck by a supernatural power and will experience paralysis or some other effect.

Curiously, in the Malay tradition the entity that guards the treasure is known as Maroni. This, of course, is one of the original spellings of Moroni.

Curious, indeed. Thank you for the information.

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3 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The same, but larger question obtains when Joseph is thought to have been  a Renaissance magus.  The magi were far more powerful in EModE times than in the later period of Joseph Smith.  We hear only of Luman Walters the Magician, as though he had passed on his knowledge to young Joseph.  Brodie and Quinn mention Walters, but cannot show that he had any contact whatever with Joseph.  The actual translator of the BofM may as well have been Dr. John Dee.

Why John Dee?

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2 hours ago, JarMan said:

Although people in Joseph's time were treasure seekers, treasure hunting was actually more prominent in early modern times as seen by a host of legislation and local folklore. Treasure hiding does not seem to be an important part of Joseph's milieu, though. But treasure hiding definitely was an early modern phenomena. Helaman 13 is more about treasure hiding than it is about treasure seeking. The discussion in this chapter thus makes a lot of sense from an early modern perspective.

That’s the question I have had of the BoM critics position. Finding as opposed to hiding. 

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BoM critics expect the Book of Mormon to be much more about treasure-hiding than about treasure-finding. The point that strikes skeptics about "slippery treasures" is not that Joseph Smith was so obsessed with hunting for slippery treasures that he wrote his own kind of treasure-hunting into the Book of Mormon. It's that what Smith seems to have written into the Book of Mormon is the standard sales patter of the 19th-century professional treasure-finder, namely the claim that ancient people buried treasure, and never retrieved it because of slipperiness, so it is still there to be dug up in the modern day—if you pay a small fee to the seer who can find the slippery stuff for you.

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4 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

That’s the question I have had of the BoM critics position. Finding as opposed to hiding. 

Do you think Physics Guy's assessment, immediately above, is a derail? He is pointing to why Joseph Smith would have put treasure lore into his book - to show that the native americans really did hide up the treasures that Joseph and his fellow treasure seekers were seeking in the middle of the night but could never find. Joseph gives the reason why he never found the supposed treasures as being because those seeking had to be seeking the treasures for the Lord's purposes - like Joseph was with his golden plates find. So, Joseph basically wrote a self-proving affidavit to justify his treasure seeking activities and defend himself against those who wanted him tried for breaking the NY statute.  

Sure, it may be the case that this kind of treasure digging superstition existed during EmodE times but Joseph still believed even after the book of mormon was published and went to Salem, Mass with Hyrum in 1836 to try and find supposed treasure when the church needed money. Here is an apologetic on the Salem treasure hunt:

https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/you-shall-have-my-word/treasures-witches-and-ancient-inhabitants-dc-111

Edited by Exiled
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3 hours ago, Physics Guy said:

BoM critics expect the Book of Mormon to be much more about treasure-hiding than about treasure-finding. The point that strikes skeptics about "slippery treasures" is not that Joseph Smith was so obsessed with hunting for slippery treasures that he wrote his own kind of treasure-hunting into the Book of Mormon. It's that what Smith seems to have written into the Book of Mormon is the standard sales patter of the 19th-century professional treasure-finder, namely the claim that ancient people buried treasure, and never retrieved it because of slipperiness, so it is still there to be dug up in the modern day—if you pay a small fee to the seer who can find the slippery stuff for you.

Yes, that’s the claim, but that is not the question of the OP. There is no treasure hunting in the BoM. It is mentioned in a few paragraphs of a 500 page book. This thread was not intended to talk about treasure seeking but the text in relation to the EModE research. You are welcome to open another thread to discuss treasure seeking.

Edited by Bernard Gui
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2 hours ago, Exiled said:

Do you think Physics Guy's assessment, immediately above, is a derail?

Yes.

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11 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Treasure hiding is universal. People in many parts of the world still hide their gold chains in the garden. Its the slippery treasure "curse" that comes from bad behavior that would be unique. 

Curses from God for bad behavior are ubiquitous in the Bible. Hiding valuables in the ground to keep from invading armies was apparently common in early modern Europe. And there were also examples where the treasure couldn’t be found later. It’s not much of a leap, then, to link the two so that the missing valuables were a result of wickedness and God’s curse. 

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6 hours ago, Physics Guy said:

BoM critics expect the Book of Mormon to be much more about treasure-hiding than about treasure-finding. The point that strikes skeptics about "slippery treasures" is not that Joseph Smith was so obsessed with hunting for slippery treasures that he wrote his own kind of treasure-hunting into the Book of Mormon. It's that what Smith seems to have written into the Book of Mormon is the standard sales patter of the 19th-century professional treasure-finder, namely the claim that ancient people buried treasure, and never retrieved it because of slipperiness, so it is still there to be dug up in the modern day—if you pay a small fee to the seer who can find the slippery stuff for you.

You’re conflating things in the Book of Mormon with some of Joseph’s personal endeavors. There’s no paying seers to find treasures in the Book of Mormon. There’s no treasure hunting in the Book of Mormon per se. In the Book of Mormon people were hiding valuables from invading armies. This is an early modern European phenomena but presumably not common in Joseph’s day since there were no invading armies. In the Book of Mormon the people went to uncover their own treasure—not a mysterious abandoned one. When the people couldn’t find their own hidden valuables it was interpreted as God’s punishment for wickedness. This isnt a very good match to Joseph’s treasure seeking activities. But it does fit quite well with early modern activities and ideas. 

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12 minutes ago, JarMan said:

You’re conflating things in the Book of Mormon with some of Joseph’s personal endeavors. There’s no paying seers to find treasures in the Book of Mormon. There’s no treasure hunting in the Book of Mormon per se. In the Book of Mormon people were hiding valuables from invading armies. This is an early modern European phenomena but presumably not common in Joseph’s day since there were no invading armies. In the Book of Mormon the people went to uncover their own treasure—not a mysterious abandoned one. When the people couldn’t find their own hidden valuables it was interpreted as God’s punishment for wickedness. This isnt a very good match to Joseph’s treasure seeking activities. But it does fit quite well with early modern activities and ideas. 

I don’t think we need to demand that the tolerances be that close. treasures were slipping away in the earth in both contexts, and that’s a strong enough shared idea all by itself. 

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4 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

[T]hat is not the question of the OP. ... This thread was not intended to talk about treasure seeking but the text in relation to the EModE research. 

Okay, if you're really only talking about EModE stuff, then this was a derail. Sorry.

It's just that you yourself later raised this question about finding versus hiding, in response to JarMan's point about the BoM text being about treasure-hiding rather than treasure-finding.

11 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

That’s the question I have had of the BoM critics position. Finding as opposed to hiding. 

So I assumed your thread had already drifted onto this topic, away from pure EModE. I pointed out that nobody thinks the Book of Mormon talks about treasure hunting. What bothers critics is that what it says sounds too much like what a 19th-century treasure-hunter would want to say about ancient people: that they left buried treasure for later people to find, and it developed the very "slipperiness" which was the 19th-century hunters' standard excuse for failure.

If you just don't want to get into that here, and want to go back to EModE, then I'll leave you to it, with my apologies for the distraction.

Edited by Physics Guy
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1 hour ago, Physics Guy said:

Okay, if you're really only talking about EModE stuff, then this was a derail. Sorry.

It's just that you yourself later raised this question about finding versus hiding, in response to JarMan's point about the BoM text being about treasure-hiding rather than treasure-finding.

So I assumed your thread had already drifted onto this topic, away from pure EModE. I pointed out that nobody thinks the Book of Mormon talks about treasure hunting. What bothers critics is that what it says sounds too much like what a 19th-century treasure-hunter would want to say about ancient people: that they left buried treasure for later people to find, and it developed the very "slipperiness" which was the 19th-century hunters' standard excuse for failure.

If you just don't want to get into that here, and want to go back to EModE, then I'll leave you to it, with my apologies for the distraction.

No worries. It is my intent explore how this  relates to the EModE work that is going on. I don’t want to get if into the weeds which is very easy to do. 

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11 hours ago, JarMan said:

You’re conflating things in the Book of Mormon with some of Joseph’s personal endeavors. There’s no paying seers to find treasures in the Book of Mormon. There’s no treasure hunting in the Book of Mormon per se. In the Book of Mormon people were hiding valuables from invading armies. This is an early modern European phenomena but presumably not common in Joseph’s day since there were no invading armies. In the Book of Mormon the people went to uncover their own treasure—not a mysterious abandoned one. When the people couldn’t find their own hidden valuables it was interpreted as God’s punishment for wickedness. This isnt a very good match to Joseph’s treasure seeking activities. But it does fit quite well with early modern activities and ideas. 

Thank you. This kind of information is what I was hoping to learn rather than rehashing the treasure seeking episodes.

I would suppose people in most times and places have tried to hide their possessions from invading armies. Isn’t this what was going on in the hills and caves around Jerusalem during the Roman wars?

Even in modern times.  It’s human nature ....

https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-News/French-town-unveils-Jewish-treasure-hidden-before-Holocaust-326767/amp

Edited by Bernard Gui
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