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The paradigm shift concerning the translation of the Book of Mormon


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17 hours ago, David Waltz said:

Hi Clark,

A thought provoking post for sure...you wrote:
 

Is there an online source for "Don Bradley's research on the 116 pages" ? Also, forgive my ignorance, but what is "the OP"?

Grace and peace,

David

Original Post, or Original Poster. The first post in the thread or the person who posted it. Usually you can tell by context.

Edited by The Nehor
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I may have a more substantive contribution later, but for now, I simply wanted to say: Nice to see you, David. :) 

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Nehor,

Thanks much for the info on "the OP". Armed with this knowledge, I would now like to respond to the following from Clark:

Quote

But the history is far more unclear than the OP makes out.

Indeed.

With that said, even just quick perusal of the posts I linked to in "the OP" would inform one that we a dealing with a complex history/topic. Further, it seems to me that a good deal of the 21st century narrative concerning the translation method/process suggests that the post 116 pages translation was primarily through the seerstone in a hat method, while I believe that it "is far more unclear".

Grace and peace,

David

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6 hours ago, David Waltz said:

QUESTION: Why has this happened? What has compelled so many to accept the 'peepstone' in the hat method promulgated by a number of early anti-Mormons (also later adopted by apostates such as David Whitmer and others who left the CoJCoLDS) ???

 

Because it makes no difference.

Rocks in a hat or rocks in a pair of spectacles?   Really?

It was translated by the gift and power of God.

It's history.  Who among us was there??  The "real story" is lost forever.

You seem to be reducing revelation to science and the use of the proper machine technology, and that would include framed stones instead of other types of stones. 

It seems likely to me that Joseph's background in folk magic disposed him to use stones as a "crutch" early in his life to receive revelation.  He never needed it, as demonstrated by how he later received revelations.

It's like the Book of Abraham and the scrolls- did not need the scrolls any more than he needed the plates to receive the revelations in the Book of Abraham and BOM.  They were simply props to give him confidence, I believe.

So the difference between reading a stone in a hat and stones in a frame like glasses?   To me, a distinction without a difference.

Think about it.  Either way he was looking at STONES and seeing letters and words- which is to the natural mind absurd from the beginning and you get hung up because the stone was not in a frame?

For those who do not believe in modern revelation there can be no answer.

For those who believe in modern revelation there can be no question.

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2 hours ago, The Nehor said:

Original Poster, or Original Poster. The first post in the thread or the person who posted it. Usually you can tell by context.

I think one of those was supposed to be "Original Post" which starts the thread.

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6 hours ago, David Waltz said:

Hello again Cinepro,

You wrote:

Not ALL the people who "saw Joseph translating". Oliver Cowdery, the primary scribe for the vast majority of the BoM, did not do so. Further, if memory serves me correctly, those who differ with Cowdery had left the CoJCoLDS for good, never returning, and their accounts came decades (mostly in the 1870s and 1880s) later.

Grace and peace,

David

David, thank you for opening this thread and for your responses. 

I have consistently had problems with the stone in the hat thing because it seemed to be that Joseph was now being presented as using it almost exclusively. This conflicted with my understanding. I admit that my conclusion was simply that Joseph used several methods of translating the Book of Mormon, rather than a single method. 

Are you positing that Joseph only used a single method - the U&T - or do you think that Joseph may have used more than one method?

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5 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

I think if you go back the seer stone was always acknowledged as used. It wasn't the main simplified narrative mind you. I think the details of what was used when are still somewhat controversial. It appears the main problem with the Interpreters was their size. Some think that Joseph might have popped one out of the "spectacles" and used that for a while. But the history is far more unclear than the OP makes out. For instance even something simple like whether the Interpreters were returned after the 116 pages is not agreed upon. Those pushing the brown stone as replacement after the 116 pages model tend to emphasize fairly late memories - particularly Emma's which was 1870. 

I think we know far less about the translation process after the 116 pages than the OP appears to presume.

I should note that I have zero problem with the use of the brown stone if that was used. As Mark said why is one stone problematic and an other fine? It's also complicated by some of Don Bradley's research on the 116 pages. There he finds early traditions almost certainly from the missing translation that the last Jaredite prophet had buried them and then Mosiah was led to them. "Put this object on your face and put your face in an animal skin.” He does and at once reports that he can see anything. This is both a hearkening back to Moses in Exodus but also obviously to Joseph's own use of the Interpreters. What makes it more interesting is that the stones may be tied to the stones of the brother of Jared. 

I raise this simply to note that Joseph was emulating the Brother of Jared and Mosiah.

I just wanted to comment that this last sentence seems unlikely, meaning I believe JS was an adept at using the seer stone prior to the BOM translation and already used it in the hat. 

 

Edited by Benjamin Seeker
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12 hours ago, David Waltz said:

Hello Stargazer,

You wrote:

Interesting. What data has compelled you to reject Oliver Cowdery's description (which has support from other sources) and accept the early anti-Mormon explanation of a 'peepstone' in the hat method?

Grace and peace,

David

I haven't rejected anything, to the best of my knowledge.  I will say that my awareness of all the accounts of translation may not be complete. For example, i don't know if I am familiar with "Oliver Cowdery's description" which you reference here. Perhaps it is in your OP, and I missed it -- I'll check back in a moment.

My varied experience with the Spirit of the Lord teaches me that the Lord inspires, reveals, directs and guides us in many different ways.  Joseph Smith's varied experiences, including those that occurred during the translation of the Book of Mormon, seem to be consistent with my own experiences, in their variety at least.

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There are more dictation witness statements out there that must be considered carefully as well.

For example, Michael Morse, who was married to Trial Hale, Emma's sister, had something to say about it in the 1870s:

Quote

He further states that when Joseph was translating the Book of Mormon, he, (Morse), had occasion more than once to go into his immediate presence, and saw him engaged at his work of translation.
  The mode of procedure consisted in Joseph’s placing the Seer Stone in the crown of a hat, then putting his face into the hat, so as to entirely cover his face, resting his elbows upon his knees, and then dictating word after word, while the scribe — Emma, John Whitmer, O. Cowdery, or some other, wrote it down.

 

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12 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

I just wanted to comment that this last sentence seems unlikely, meaning I believe JS was an adept at using the seer stone prior to the BOM translation and already used it in the hat. 

It's possible but he clearly saw the Interpreters initially as something much different. Something changed that allowed him to move back to the seer stone. There's not really any historic information on why he shifted back or how or if it affected the translation. So there's simply a lot we don't know.

2 hours ago, champatsch said:

There are more dictation witness statements out there that must be considered carefully as well.

For example, Michael Morse, who was married to Trial Hale, Emma's sister, had something to say about it in the 1870s:

I think the later accounts have to be treated carefully. Although the quote you give lines up with earlier descriptions too. I should add that this would, I'd think, make hidden copies of pre-written texts much more difficult due to the lack of light.

14 hours ago, blueglass said:

"On the other hand, Oliver Cowdery, who likewise was not present at the hearing, reported in 1835 that the court “honorably acquitted” JS.27"

Compare w Neely's account

"And therefore the court find the defendant guilty"

Which conclusion does the new book Saints vol1 take?any prediction? See pg34.

This seems a bit misleading given the providence of the quotes from the Neely docket. (Discussed on the JSP page you linked to) The full text at JSP is worth quoting:

  • Two early descriptions of the trial, written by individuals who evidently were not present during the proceedings, indicate that the court “condemned” JS but that he was subsequently allowed to escape.26 On the other hand, Oliver Cowdery, who likewise was not present at the hearing, reported in 1835 that the court “honorably acquitted” JS.27 Whereas the published docket entry indicates that Neely found JS guilty, Purple’s reminiscence has the court discharging JS for lack of evidence. The itemized bill for Neely’s services in the published docket entry—assuming it accurately reflects the justice’s fees for his 1826 services—does not contain an entry for making a record of conviction, a document required by the 1825 justice of the peace manual.28 There is also no evidence that JS was incarcerated in the bridewell in 1826.29 While this strongly suggests that Neely did not convict JS, the lack of verifiable contemporary records renders tentative any conclusion about the case’s outcome.

I think the lack of being sent to a bridewell is pretty significant in terms of how we ought view this as does the issue of fee.

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14 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Because it makes no difference.

Rocks in a hat or rocks in a pair of spectacles?   Really?

It was translated by the gift and power of God.

It's history.  Who among us was there??  The "real story" is lost forever.

You seem to be reducing revelation to science and the use of the proper machine technology, and that would include framed stones instead of other types of stones. 

It seems likely to me that Joseph's background in folk magic disposed him to use stones as a "crutch" early in his life to receive revelation.  He never needed it, as demonstrated by how he later received revelations.

It's like the Book of Abraham and the scrolls- did not need the scrolls any more than he needed the plates to receive the revelations in the Book of Abraham and BOM.  They were simply props to give him confidence, I believe.

So the difference between reading a stone in a hat and stones in a frame like glasses?   To me, a distinction without a difference.

Think about it.  Either way he was looking at STONES and seeing letters and words- which is to the natural mind absurd from the beginning and you get hung up because the stone was not in a frame?

For those who do not believe in modern revelation there can be no answer.

For those who believe in modern revelation there can be no question.

And such aids to revelation are common to the first prophets of dispensations, particularly in the beginning of dispensations, particularly when that dispensation is starting from relative scratch and the prophet is being trained from the basics. Was the rod of Aaron needed to work miracles? Was the brazen serpent needed to heal? Did Lehi need the physical Liahona to get directions and revelation? Eventually the aids are discarded.

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21 hours ago, David Waltz said:

- Prior to the 21st century, most LDS scholars discounted the 'peepstone' in the hat method. It was not as if scholars like Francis Kirkham and Hugh Nibley were unaware of the 'peepstone' in the hat method--quite the contrary--they thoroughly engaged such sources, providing solid reasons for not accepting such sources as reliable.

Could you clarify a bit more here? From what I could see the peepstone in the hat was fairly well known and accepted. Are you referring to Nibley's Tinkling Cymbals? I think there he dismissed a lot of stuff that historians tended to accept. That's also fairly old. I'm trying to find the original publication date but can't seem to. My memory is that it was written in the 1950's under direction. In my opinion it's his worst "scholarly work" although interesting as a kind of play on Roman satirical rhetorical styles. I'd be careful taking it as representative of faithful scholarly views in the late 20th century. 

Kirkham I confess I've never read. He died in 1972 so again was primarily writing in the 50's and 60's. I know he wrote a book on Joseph's work but just don't know the details of what was in it. I'll assume you are correct that he discounted the seer stone. I'm not sure how significant that is though.

I'd just note that if the seer stone is ending up in the pages of the Children's Friend in the 70's that the situation is a bit more complicated than you suggest. I'd think one would have to search through the Improvement Era (the precursor of the Ensign, and much broader in nature than the Ensign) to say much. I think that'd be a fascinating research paper but would take a bit of work.

Anyway Richard Lloyd Anderson, who by the 70's was the preeminent faithful historian of Joseph Smith, took the seer stone accounts as accurate and even discussed them in the Ensign.

I think it's fair to say that while the seer stone was engaged with in the pages of manuals and Church magazines it wasn't done frequently. But that seems a much weaker claim than you are making.

17 hours ago, David Waltz said:

Is there an online source for "Don Bradley's research on the 116 pages" ? Also, forgive my ignorance, but what is "the OP"?

He's preparing a book but it isn't ready. His thesis, which was more on a gathering of Israel in New York prior to the translation of the Book of Mormon, is available. It mentions a few elements of the 116 page evidence. The best source in the meantime is his LDS Perspectives interview and his old FAIR talk from several years ago.  There was also a discussion here last year when his thesis came out.

21 hours ago, David Waltz said:

Fact #4 - Following the publication of the Mark Hoffman forgeries, the attitude towards the 'peepstone' in the hat method began to change amongst some LDS folk.

I'd seriously qualify this a bit. It's true that Hoffman played up folk magic connections in his forgeries leading scholars to confront this and then be left with egg on their face after the forgeries became clear. However Quinn's work Early Mormonism and the Magic World View was the transformative work. While the first edition made use of some forgeries, it primarily was based upon primary data and itself was making use of earlier historic discussions. It was somewhat transformative in that it put the magic world view into deeper consideration. I think making Hoffman the key figure is misleading though. I wouldn't dismiss his "salamander" forgery in terms of focusing attention. However I think those questions of folk magic and the discussion of the seer stone aren't as intrinsically related as  you make them out. That said even the non-Quinn papers of the 80's tended to reference works that turned out to be Hoffman forgeries. However I think that was less tied intrinsically to Hoffman's sensationalist forgeries than it simply was that the late 70's and 80's was the time Mormon history matured and became academic. However certainly BYU Studies had a full issue on treasure hunting and seer stones in 1984. The Editor's introduction does note the place of Hoffmann in interest in the topics. I don't think that the same thing as changing the attitude, as Anderson's 1977 Ensign article attests.

Note Quinn's work came out in 1987 with a greatly expanded second edition in 2000. It's worth noting that the response of noted FARMS figures Stephen Ricks and Dan Peterson in their Dialog review. "Up to this point, we see no need to contest Quinn’s basic evidence or to disagree with what we understand to be his thesis." i.e. on the key relevant points even Quinn's critics agreed on the history. (They take more issue with Quinn's loose use of magic as a term, which is common among even Quinn's defenders) I think Quinn's work transformed scholarly views of the occult/magic. Arguably having at least as big an influence on broader non-Mormon studies of 19th century America as it did Mormon history. I'm not convinced it necessarily transformed the view of the seer stone by Joseph after the arrival of the plates, although it certainly did shift it quite a bit.

(As an aside can I say how annoying the Maxwell Institute's reordering of all their pages is - nothing can be found right now. Ditto for a lot of BYU Studies issues. Most links no longer work.)

21 hours ago, David Waltz said:

Fact #5 - Even though the Mark Hoffman forgeries were later to proved to just that, 'Pandora's Box' had been opened, and the move towards accepting the 'peepstone' in the hat method as fact began to gain broader acceptance.

QUESTION: Why has this happened? What has compelled so many to accept the 'peepstone' in the hat method promulgated by a number of early anti-Mormons (also later adopted by apostates such as David Whitmer and others who left the CoJCoLDS) ???

I think the propondence of the evidence points towards his use of the seer stones. As more sources have been discovered since the 80's that's become even clearer. As I mentioned there still are many points that are unclear. Were the Interpreters returned after the translation recommenced? Not clear, although I think the evidence points towards Joseph using them, perhaps using just one stone removed from the "spectacles" holder. The sources conflict somewhat. Later accounts (typically in the 1870's or later) emphasize the brown stone but I don't think we know how often it was used or even if a stone was always used. It's also pretty unclear if either the Interpreters or the brown seer stone were used in the production of the JST, the production of the Book of Abraham or other revelations. I think the weight of evidence is that Joseph came to not need aids, but there are the occasional conflicting report.

 

Edited by clarkgoble
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Hi Brant,

 

So good to see you commenting on this topic. Your book, The Gift and Power - Translating the Book of Mormon, was the third book length, 21st century treatment in this genre that I read (Joseph Smith's Seer Stones, and From Darkness unto Light - Joseph Smith's Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon, being the first and second).

 

Years before, I had already read Quinn's two editions of, Mormonism and the Magic World View, and as I related in one of the links I provided in my OP, Richard Van Wagoner's and Steven Walker's, "Joseph Smith: 'The Gift of Seeing'". I have also read literally dozens of anti-Mormon books, buying literally all the reprints published by Gerald and Sandra Tanner's Utah Lighthouse Ministry, as well a obtaining a good number of first editions in used bookstores. As such, I have been aware of the peep/seer stone in the hat method for about 3 decades now.

 

As I was collecting and reading the above referenced materials, I was also collecting and reading pro-LDS contributions. In that collection, four authors in particular had significant impact on me: Francis Kirkham, Bruce R. McConkie, Hugh Nibley and B. H. Roberts. I cannot remember McConkie commenting on the peep/seer stone in the hat method—his son, Joseph Fielding McConkie did so, more on this later—but the other three did, with all of them rejecting the alleged use. I do not believe that this rejection was due to a lack of germane source materials, for all three had access to, and clearly had read, a good deal of anti-Mormon contributions. Further, Kirkham in his book, Source Material Concerning the Origin of the Book Mormon (1937 -192 pages), provided extracts from letters, newspaper articles, journals, and, of course, anti-Mormon books. Kirkham went on the write a two-volume apologetic work titled, A New Witness for Christ in America (1942, 1951/1959 - 1,015 pages) focusing on the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and combating a legion of anti-Mormon attacks and works. I am quite sure you are fully aware of Kirkham's published contributions, but for the benefit of others who may read this post, I would like to provide Kirkham's conclusion concerning the peep/seer stone in the hat method—in his own words:

 

"In the opinion of the writer, the Prophet used no seer stone in translating the Book of Mormon, neither did he translate in the manner described by David Whitmer and Martin Harris. The statements of both of these men are to be explained by the eagerness of old age to call upon a fading and uncertain memory for the details of events which still remained real and objective to them." ("The Manner of Translating the Book of Mormon", in Improvement Era, 42.10, page 632.)

 

Moving on, you wrote:

 

>> At some point, he found it easier to return to one of his previous seer stones, apparently translating most of the Book of Mormon with the chocolate-colored one. This might have been after the angel took the plates back, and presumably the interpreters. It isn't known if the interpreters were returned when Joseph began to translate again.>> (Bold emphasis added.)

 

Have you read the following:

 

>>Question: Did Joseph Smith say anything about the process of translation?

 

Answer: Yes. Joseph affirmed that he "translated from the plates," and that he used the Urim and Thummim to do so. After the loss of the 116 pages by Martin Harris, both the plates and the Urim and Thummim were taken from him. Without the Urim and Thummim he could not translate. During this period Joseph made a short visit to his parents in Manchester, New York, and then returned again to Pennsylvania. "Immediately after my return home," he recounted, "I was walking out a little distance, when, behold, the former heavenly messenger appeared and handed to me the Urim and Thummim again for it had been taken from me in consequence of my having wearied the Lord in asking for the privilege of letting Martin Harris take the writings, which he lost by transgression and I inquired of the Lord through it, and obtained the following [section 3]" (Smith, History of the Church, 1:21-22).

 

"After I had obtained the above revelation," the Prophet continued, "both the plates and the Urim and Thummim were taken from me again; but in a few days they were returned to me, when I inquired of the Lord, and the Lord said thus unto me:

 

"Now, behold, I say unto you, that because you delivered up those writings which you had power given unto you to translate by the means of the Urim and Thummim, into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them. And you also lost your gift at the same time, and your mind became darkened" (Smith, History of the Church, 1:23-24).>> [Joseph Fielding McConkie and Craig J. Ostler, Revelations of the Restoration: A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants and Other Modern Revelations, p.92 - bold emphasis added.]

 

 

Grace and peace,

 

David

Edited by David Waltz
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Hi Thanks for starting the conversation. I personally believe this is one of THE MOST critical issues facing our church at this time. I am an independent researcher, and have spent many months and hours researching every single source according to present research regarding the stone in the hat "THEORY' and the Book of Mormon Translation.  I have come to the same conclusions as is stated in this Book.

https://josephsmithfoundation.org/store/product/seer-stone-v-urim-thummim-book-of-mormon-translation-on-trial-book/

Here are some additional compelling articles. 

https://ldsanswers.org/joseph-smith-translate-plates-book-mormon-came-forth/

http://ldsanswers.org/was-joseph-smith-involved-in-witchcraft-magic-and-the-occult/

Someone also mentions the 1826 Trial of Joseph Smith. Here is some additional insights

1826 Trial of Joseph Smith

HERE IS THE BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

On March 20, 1826, Joseph Smith was arrested by Constable Philip De Zeng and brought to court in Bainbridge, New York, on the complaint of Josiah Stowell's nephew or son ( different sources name different accusers) , who accused Smith of being "a disorderly person and an imposter."

The ACCUSERS:

“Whether it was Josiah Stowell’s sons or his nephew Peter G. Bridgman, it seems to be close family members. We don’t know why Peter G. Bridgman brought the charges, but it could easily have been because he was worried that his uncle was accepting Joseph Smith in his religious claims. Josiah did join the church organized by Joseph Smith and stayed faithful his whole life. As for Peter Bridgman, “Within a month after the trial he was licensed as an exhorter by the Methodists and within three years had helped establish the West Bainbridge Methodist Church”.

Here are the FACTS:

The Court hearing of 1826 was not a trial. It was an examination. There was NEVER an actual TRIAL. Judge Albert Neely reviewed the case and it was dismissed for LACK OF EVIDENCE. In other words it was simply a PRE-TRIAL hearing that never made it trial, therefore, JOSEPH WAS NEVER EVER CONVICTED of being a “GLASS LOOKER”.

Joseph was ultimately released without being fined and had no punishment imposed upon him. Years later, a bill from the judge was discovered which billed for court services. Which you can view here:
https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/…/trial-bill-circa-9-no…/1

Facts about this BILL:

The court did not assess a fine against Joseph. There were bills made out by Judge Neely and Constable DeZeng, but these were for costs. Those bills were directed to the County for payment of witnesses, etc., not to Joseph.

These Bills or documents from Judge Neely were not discovered until 1971.

These documents were removed from their purported site of discovery by Dr. Wesley Walters, a well-known anti-Mormon author.

Walters wrote, "Because the two 1826 bills had not only suffered from dampness, but had severe water damage as well, Mr. Poffarl hand-carried the documents to the Yale University's Beinecke Library, which has one of the best document preservation centers in the country." The problem with this action is, once you have removed a document from a historical setting and then try to restore it to the same setting, you can't prove that you have not altered the document. Wesley P. Walters, "Joseph Smith's Bainbridge, N.Y. Court Trials," The Westminster Theological Journal 36:2 (1974), 153.
“The actions of Walters and Poffarl compromised the documents. By having the documents removed and only returned under threat of a lawsuit by the County, it opened the possibility that they could be forged documents”.

Ultimately, The court hearing failed in its purpose, and was only resurrected decades later to accuse Joseph Smith of different crimes to a different people.

Here is where the Story gets interesting, laughable, and unbelievable.

The story of the supposed “1826 Trial” was resurrected 50 years later. Yes, 5 entire decades go by and not one mention of the trial by any of Joseph Smith’s enemies who for years attempted to dig up every possible “evidence” to accuse the Prophet of being a fraud.

On April 28, 1877, FIFTY YEARS LATER, a man named William D Purple, wrote a newspaper article titled: 
“Joseph Smith, the Originator of Mormonism
Historical Reminiscences of the town of Afton”.

In this document, Purple claimed that he attended the 1826 trial. Remember it was never a trial but simple a “pre-trial” or an examination that was dismissed for ‘lack of evidence’.

Nonetheless, Purple suddenly comes forward 5 decades after the fact and claims to have “suddenly remembered” being at the trial, and he claims to have taken notes.

He then attempts to write from memory the supposed testimony of “witnesses” he claims were at the trial that never was a trial. Including a testimony of Joseph Smith Jr. and Joseph Smith Sr.

What makes Purple’s claims so flagrantly false is not only the obvious contradictions but around the same time torn pages from Justice Neely’s original docket of the 1826 PRE TRIAL surfaced and were published by Daniel S Tuttle. These pages have ZERO evidence of the testimonies described by William Purple.

"The record of the examination was torn from Neely's docket book by his niece, Emily Persall, and taken to Utah when she went to serve as a missionary under Episcopalian bishop Daniel S. Tuttle."

So, we have what has been called "The 1826 Trial of Joseph Smith", even though the records show that this wasn't actually a trial, there were no charges, and there were no witness testimonies as claimed by Purple.

For many years LDS scholars Francis Kirkham, Hugh Nibley and others expressed serious doubts that such a trial had even taken place. And they were correct!

 

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On 7/25/2019 at 11:01 AM, David Waltz said:

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I finished reading this book last week, but personally had my own questions concerning this paradigm shift, which began back in May 2017. My questions were precipitated by the reading of the book, Joseph Smith's Seer Stones (http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2017/06/book-of-mormon-translated-via-use-of.html).

 

After numerous further purchases, and months of research, I published some on my concerns in the following post:

 

http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2018/01/early-mormon-history-important-paradigm.html ................................

I haven't read Joseph Smith's Seer Stones, David, but have been intimately familiar with the issue since long before you became involved (in 1987).

Your two above articles are an excellent summary, and I am glad that you pointed out the ease any ordinary Latter-day Saint would have in prior years finding all the early accounts of seer stone use -- if they bothered to look.  I have argued that for years to basically deaf ears.  I was also happy to see you cite the comments of Elizabeth Ann Whitmer, which I sought to make widely available during the seven years I spent researching at the RLDS Archives in the late 70s and early 80s.  A blanket was used, however, at the door, to prevent the prying eyes of outsiders.  See my response to an article by Ed Ashment:  Robert F. Smith, “Translation of Languages (hermēniea glōssōn I Cor 12:10),” 28pp. (Independence, MO, June 1980), online 2010 at https://www.scribd.com/doc/46307834/Translation-of-Languages .  Van Wagoner & Walker had the full benefit of my research, and Van Wagoner even came out to visit me in Independence while researching their 1982 book.

One problem which you do not overcome is in always defining the Urim & Thummim as Nephite interpreters.  Urim & Thummim is demonstrably a generic term for either the Nephite interpreters or the seer stone, and that usage has continued to confuse readers right into the current day.  It is a mistake now, and always has been, to substitute that biblical term for the actual objects being referred to.

As to the paradigm shift which you refer to, most ardent former RLDS still cannot accept the seerstone in the hat, and it is pointless to argue with them.  

The three paradigms you lay out as Supernatural A, Supernatural B, and various secular naturalists is only correct insofar as we attribute those surface views to the unsophisticated.  Scholars take the view that formal LDS theology is entirely naturalistic & humanistic (LDS theology emphatically denies the legitimacy of normative Judeo-Christian supernaturalism), and sees the secular anti-Mormon crowd as making a simple category mistake -- guilt by association with other Christian religions.

By the way, David, the LDS Hymnal includes a song by John Henry Cardinal Newman.

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27 minutes ago, Kimberly Smith said:

.................................................

What makes Purple’s claims so flagrantly false is not only the obvious contradictions but around the same time torn pages from Justice Neely’s original docket of the 1826 PRE TRIAL surfaced and were published by Daniel S Tuttle. These pages have ZERO evidence of the testimonies described by William Purple.

"The record of the examination was torn from Neely's docket book by his niece, Emily Persall, and taken to Utah when she went to serve as a missionary under Episcopalian bishop Daniel S. Tuttle."

So, we have what has been called "The 1826 Trial of Joseph Smith", even though the records show that this wasn't actually a trial, there were no charges, and there were no witness testimonies as claimed by Purple.

For many years LDS scholars Francis Kirkham, Hugh Nibley and others expressed serious doubts that such a trial had even taken place. And they were correct!

Actually the trial did take place, even if the original transcript cannot now be located, because we do have the original bill of costs of that 1826 trial -- in which Joseph was allowed to take leg bail.

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10 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

.................................

I'd seriously qualify this a bit. It's true that Hoffman played up folk magic connections in his forgeries leading scholars to confront this and then be left with egg on their face after the forgeries became clear. However Quinn's work Early Mormonism and the Magic World View was the transformative work. While the first edition made use of some forgeries, it primarily was based upon primary data and itself was making use of earlier historic discussions. It was somewhat transformative in that it put the magic world view into deeper consideration. I think making Hoffman the key figure is misleading though. I wouldn't dismiss his "salamander" forgery in terms of focusing attention. However I think those questions of folk magic and the discussion of the seer stone aren't as intrinsically related as  you make them out. That said even the non-Quinn papers of the 80's tended to reference works that turned out to be Hoffman forgeries. However I think that was less tied intrinsically to Hoffman's sensationalist forgeries than it simply was that the late 70's and 80's was the time Mormon history matured and became academic. However certainly BYU Studies had a full issue on treasure hunting and seer stones in 1984. The Editor's introduction does note the place of Hoffmann in interest in the topics. I don't think that the same thing as changing the attitude, as Anderson's 1977 Ensign article attests.

Note Quinn's work came out in 1987 with a greatly expanded second edition in 2000. It's worth noting that the response of noted FARMS figures Stephen Ricks and Dan Peterson in their Dialog review. "Up to this point, we see no need to contest Quinn’s basic evidence or to disagree with what we understand to be his thesis." i.e. on the key relevant points even Quinn's critics agreed on the history. (They take more issue with Quinn's loose use of magic as a term, which is common among even Quinn's defenders) I think Quinn's work transformed scholarly views of the occult/magic. .....................

It was primarily non-LDS scholar Jan Shipps who emphasized the fact that magic was an integral part of religion, something other non-LDS historians had been saying all along:  So Jon Butler, “Magic, Astrology, and the Early American Religious Heritage, 1600-1760,” American Historical Review, 84/2 (Apr 1979):318, “the survival of European occult or magical practices in the American colonies,” and 319, “magic and Christianity in colonial America were not generically different entities but were subsets of the same phenomenon – religion.”  Mike Quinn and others merely fell in line with that understanding.  I had already been trained to think that way at the Hebrew Univ in Jerusalem.

10 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

(As an aside can I say how annoying the Maxwell Institute's reordering of all their pages is - nothing can be found right now. Ditto for a lot of BYU Studies issues. Most links no longer work.).......................................

The transition is ongoing, but the journals including BYU Studies can all be found at https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/ .  Some other items can be found on the Book of Mormon Central Archive.

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1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The three paradigms you lay out as Supernatural A, Supernatural B, and various secular naturalists is only correct insofar as we attribute those surface views to the unsophisticated.  Scholars take the view that formal LDS theology is entirely naturalistic & humanistic (LDS theology emphatically denies the legitimacy of normative Judeo-Christian supernaturalism), and sees the secular anti-Mormon crowd as making a simple category mistake -- guilt by association with other Christian religions.

Bravo!  :good:

This is the key to it all.  We ARE a "secular" faith which seeks to glorify humanity, as it can be without the supernatural.  In fact, for us there IS no "supernatural". 

A number of cognitive scientists are now studying the "cognitive science of religion" and yes, there are believers among those studying these issues.  One is Justin Barrett, whom I have been aware of for years.  He is a practicing Evangelical Christian who has beliefs very like ours about God and anthropomorphism.

I think this particular quote illustrates your point about how a naturalistic view of God can be interpreted BOTH as a victory for theists or a victory for atheists- as always it is a matter of interpretation.  Barrett is a co-author of the article.

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Conclusion 
Findings and theory from CSR are sometimes used as part of an argument against the truth or justification of religious belief (Dawkins, 2006; Dennett, 2006). We find no reason to draw such eliminativist conclusions (Barrett, 2007a; Schloss & Murray, 2009). Perhaps such evidence could even be used as part of an argument affirming a divinely implanted receptivity to the transcendent. Whether any given religious beliefs are true or false, helpful or harmful, to be realised and successfully transmitted they must enjoy some support by human cognitive systems. Here, we are only concerned with the latest published evidence relevant to just how well supported by cognition key religious ideas are.

The literature reviewed in this article does not represent the only recently published or ongoing research relevant to CSR, but it does illustrate the growth of empirical activity in this area. Further, this research adds to our understanding of the state-of-the art in diverse ways. Research concerning teleological reasoning about the natural world affirms and extends Kelemen’s earlier argument. Not only might such a teleological bias occur across cultures, it also appears to extend into adulthood. If so, these early developing biases may continue to anchor reasoning about the world and lend support to theologies that include gods that bring about natural states of affairs. Research on children’s acquisition of god concepts complicates rather than affirms previous research. Though young children clearly do reason about gods and people differently, the claim that children are biased to over-ascribe super-knowledge is in need of more disambiguation. It may be that god concepts are not wholly intuitive but only ‘minimally counterintuitive’. If so, they would still be predicted to have a transmission advantage over radically counterintuitive ideas and wholly intuitive ones – or would they? More research is needed. Finally, experimental evidence is beginning to demonstrate that even subliminal priming of religion-related ideas may tilt people toward prosocial action.

Several important areas of theoretical development in CSR have received little or no new psychological empirical treatment in recent years. For instance, Stewart Guthrie’s argument that an evolved system for detecting human-like intentional agency in our environments may encourage belief in gods (Guthrie, 1993), has been under-studied. Certainly humans do possess some kind of functional system that readily detects intentional agents given scant or ambiguous inputs under some conditions (Scholl & Tremoulet, 2000). This Hypersensitive Agency Detection Device (HADD), as one of us has dubbed it (Barrett, 2004), appears to emerge already in infancy (Rochat et al., 1997). Whether it plays an important role in generating or encouraging the belief in superhuman or supernatural beings, however, has not been satisfactorily demonstrated, let alone whether HADD plays a meaningful part in encouraging belief in the sort of cosmic deities central to many world religions. The challenge set (Barrett, 2007b) for psychologists to contribute to CSR through empirically testing the reputed mechanisms at play has not gone unmet. Empirical research in this area is beginning to fill the gap between theory and evidence. Nevertheless, the same need persists to solve some old and some new questions: Psychologists, CSR needs you.

Justin L. Barrett is a research fellow at Regent’s Park College, Oxford and senior researcher at the Centre for Anthropology and Mind. justin.barrett@anthro.ox.ac.uk

Emily Reed Burdett is a doctoral student in the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, Oxford University

 

https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-24/edition-4/cognitive-science-religion

And from Wikipedia:

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Views on evolution of religious belief[edit]

Barrett is described in the New York Times as a "prominent member of the byproduct camp" and "an observant Christian who believes in “an all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly good God who brought the universe into being,” [and] “that the purpose for people is to love God and love each other.” He considers that “Christian theology teaches that people were crafted by God to be in a loving relationship with him and other people, Why wouldn’t God, then, design us in such a way as to find belief in divinity quite natural?” Having a scientific explanation for mental phenomena does not mean we should stop believing in them. “Suppose science produces a convincing account for why I think my wife loves me — should I then stop believing that she does?”[3]

Why Would Anyone Believe in God?[edit]

In his book Why Would Anyone Believe in God? he suggests that "belief in God is an almost inevitable consequence of the kind of minds we have. Most of what we believe comes from mental tools working below our conscious awareness. And what we believe consciously is in large part driven by these unconscious beliefs." and "that beliefs in gods match up well with these automatic assumptions; beliefs in an all-knowing, all-powerful God match up even better."[4]

 

I actually joined the church based on conclusions like these I formed years ago.

The tacit assumptions here include the notion that personal revelation is a form of inborn intuitive communication between humans, including The Father of us all.

Edited by mfbukowski
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2 hours ago, Kimberly Smith said:

nd claims to have “suddenly remembered” being at the trial

Who are you quoting with the “suddenly remembered”?  Or are those scare quotes?  

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Magic world view indeed! Whichever method Joseph used to translate, it has good friends in the Jewish traditions of how the original Urim and Thummim functioned...

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According to classical rabbinical literature, in order for the Urim and Thummim to give an answer, it was first necessary for the individual to stand facing the fully dressed high priest, and vocalise the question briefly and in a simple way, though it was not necessary for it to be loud enough for anyone else to hear it. The Talmudic rabbis argued that Urim and Thummim were words written on the sacred breastplate. Most of the Talmudic rabbis, and Josephus, following the belief that Urim meant "lights", argued that divination by Urim and Thummim involved questions being answered by great rays of light shining out of certain jewels on the breastplate; each jewel was taken to represent different letters, and the sequence of lighting thus would spell out an answer (though there were 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and only 12 jewels on the breastplate);  two Talmudic rabbis, however, argued that the jewels themselves moved in a way that made them stand out from the rest, or even moved themselves into groups to form words. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urim_and_Thummim

And, 

Quote

The High Priest stands facing the Ark of the Testimony, and the questioner stands behind him, facing the priest's back. The questioner does not speak out loud, neither does he merely think the question in his heart; he poses his query quietly, to himself - like someone who prayers quietly before his Creator. For example, he will ask "Shall I go out to battle, or shall I not go out?"

The High Priest is immediately enveloped by the spirit of Divine inspiration. He gazes at the breastplate, and by meditating upon the holy names of G-d, the priest was able to receive the answer through a prophetic vision-the letters on the stones of the breastplate, which would shine forth in his eyes in a special manner, spelling out the answer to the question. The priest then informs the questioner of the answer.

Flavius Josephus writes (Antiquities 3:8:9) that the stones also shone brilliantly when Israel went forth into battle. This was considered as an auspicious sign for their victory.

Another midrashic passage indicates that when the tribes of Israel found favor in G-d's eyes, each respective stone shone brilliantly. But when particular members of any one tribe were involved in a transgression, that tribe's stone would appear tarnished and dimmed. The High Priest would see this phenomena and understand its cause. He would then cast lots within the rank of this tribe, until the guilty person was revealed and judged (Midrash HaGadol).

http://www.templeinstitute.org/beged/priestly_garments-8.htm

“Shall I go out to battle, or shall I not go out?" is reminiscent of this event in Alma 43 when the soldier Moroni asked the High Priest Alma (who possessed the Nephite Interpreters) for counsel in war:

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23 But it came to pass, as soon as they had departed into the wilderness Moroni sent spies into the wilderness to watch their camp; and Moroni, also, knowing of the prophecies of Alma, sent certain men unto him, desiring him that he should inquire of the Lord whither the armies of the Nephites should go to defend themselves against the Lamanites.
24 And it came to pass that the word of the Lord came unto Alma, and Alma informed the messengers of Moroni, that the armies of the Lamanites were marching round about in the wilderness, that they might come over into the land of Manti, that they might commence an attack upon the weaker part of the people. And those messengers went and delivered the message unto Moroni.

 

Edited by Bernard Gui
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