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JarMan

Roman History/Book of Mormon Parallels

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I've mentioned parallels between Roman history and the Book of Mormon on this forum before. I compiled some of these into a presentation that I recently presented at Sunstone. The following videos are re-recordings of the Sunstone videos.

The question is: how did Roman events get into the Book of Mormon? Were they added by Joseph Smith or one of his contemporaries? Or were they added as part of a 17th Century production of the Book of Mormon?

Since I don't expect everyone to watch the videos, I'll give a brief synopsis. 

I specifically compare the Gadianton Robbers and their wars with the Nephites to two specific events in Roman history. Helaman 1 and 2 are very similar to the Catilinarian Conspiracies described by Sallust. Conflicts with the Gadianton Robbers described in 3 Nephi are very similar to the war with Tacfarinas described by Tacitus. Another similarity is a letter written by Pompey that strongly resembles Moroni's letter in Alma 60. I discuss dozens of similarities, many of which are very specific. For example, the  Latin name Catilina is very similar to the name Gadianton. And the war with Tacfarinas lasts seven years, from AD 17-24, which is practically the identical period of time covered by the last Nephite war against the Gadianton Robbers in 3 Nephi. I also discuss the similarities in the Latin use of the word latro and the word robber in the Book of Mormon.

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Interesting. Are there any Early Modern English writers who specialized in Roman history? Could be a clue.

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1 hour ago, Bernard Gui said:

Interesting. Are there any Early Modern English writers who specialized in Roman history? Could be a clue.

There are many Early Modern European writers who engaged with Roman history. This paper identifies several English dramatists that employed classical Roman elements. This paper identifies Dutch historiographer Janus Dousa as a Tacitist and this paper discusses Hugo Grotius' imitation of Tacitus in his own written histories. From this book:

Capture.PNG.8e5e5a27a1ad0f3bfbc5388615e86677.PNG

There are many more since Roman history was such a widespread area of study during that time.

Edited by JarMan
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7 hours ago, JarMan said:

I've mentioned parallels between Roman history and the Book of Mormon on this forum before. I compiled some of these into a presentation that I recently presented at Sunstone. The following videos are re-recordings of the Sunstone videos.

The question is: how did Roman events get into the Book of Mormon? Were they added by Joseph Smith or one of his contemporaries? Or were they added as part of a 17th Century production of the Book of Mormon?

Since I don't expect everyone to watch the videos, I'll give a brief synopsis. 

I specifically compare the Gadianton Robbers and their wars with the Nephites to two specific events in Roman history. Helaman 1 and 2 are very similar to the Catilinarian Conspiracies described by Sallust. Conflicts with the Gadianton Robbers described in 3 Nephi are very similar to the war with Tacfarinas described by Tacitus. Another similarity is a letter written by Pompey that strongly resembles Moroni's letter in Alma 60. I discuss dozens of similarities, many of which are very specific. For example, the  Latin name Catilina is very similar to the name Gadianton. And the war with Tacfarinas lasts seven years, from AD 17-24, which is practically the identical period of time covered by the last Nephite war against the Gadianton Robbers in 3 Nephi. I also discuss the similarities in the Latin use of the word latro and the word robber in the Book of Mormon.

I'd say that in general, the answer is human nature's response to being enticed by God and the devil (we are all as Adam and Eve). So we will find parallels among all nations, kindred, tongues and people, the audience the Book of Mormon is written for. Just as the word of God is given to all men according to their language and circumstances, so are secret combinations found among them. There is nothing new under the sun, only the clarity with which it is described, seen and understood through the benefits of the Restored Gospel.

Edited by CV75
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3 hours ago, JarMan said:

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

There are many more since Roman history was such a widespread area of study during that time.

and indeed all part of the Renaissance.

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21 hours ago, JarMan said:

There are many Early Modern European writers who engaged with Roman history. This paper identifies several English dramatists that employed classical Roman elements. This paper identifies Dutch historiographer Janus Dousa as a Tacitist and this paper discusses Hugo Grotius' imitation of Tacitus in his own written histories. From this book:

Capture.PNG.8e5e5a27a1ad0f3bfbc5388615e86677.PNG

There are many more since Roman history was such a widespread area of study during that time.

Wouldn’t it be possible to use various literary analysis tools to identify writing styles similar to that of the a Book of Mormon?

Edited by Bernard Gui
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8 hours ago, CV75 said:

I'd say that in general, the answer is human nature's response to being enticed by God and the devil (we are all as Adam and Eve). So we will find parallels among all nations, kindred, tongues and people, the audience the Book of Mormon is written for. Just as the word of God is given to all men according to their language and circumstances, so are secret combinations found among them. There is nothing new under the sun, only the clarity with which it is described, seen and understood through the benefits of the Restored Gospel.

In a general way you're right. Different civilizations will have similarities because humans are humans. But in this case the similarities are way too numerous, too clustered, and too specific to fit that genera rule. If Catilina was just a random name from Roman history it wouldn't mean anything that it was so close to Gadianton. But we've got Catilina the robber (latro). He was behind a conspiracy to kill the consul and take power for himself. His goal in taking power was to murder the people and take their wealth. He got support for his conspiracy by promising positions of power to those who helped. He used secret oaths to bind the conspiracy. His plan was thwarted when an informant in the conspiracy told the consul his plans. He fled the city with his supporters when his plans fell through. Every one of these things (and a few more I haven't mentioned) has a correspondence to the events in Helaman 2. And this is just the beginning of many more specific, clustered parallels.

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5 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

Wouldn’t it be possible to use various literary anslysis tools to identify writing styles similar to that of the a Book of Mormon?

Maybe. However, I think we can get there just by looking at the contents of the Book of Mormon and comparing them with the contents of the writings of early modern people.

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31 minutes ago, JarMan said:

In a general way you're right. Different civilizations will have similarities because humans are humans. But in this case the similarities are way too numerous, too clustered, and too specific to fit that genera rule. If Catilina was just a random name from Roman history it wouldn't mean anything that it was so close to Gadianton. But we've got Catilina the robber (latro). He was behind a conspiracy to kill the consul and take power for himself. His goal in taking power was to murder the people and take their wealth. He got support for his conspiracy by promising positions of power to those who helped. He used secret oaths to bind the conspiracy. His plan was thwarted when an informant in the conspiracy told the consul his plans. He fled the city with his supporters when his plans fell through. Every one of these things (and a few more I haven't mentioned) has a correspondence to the events in Helaman 2. And this is just the beginning of many more specific, clustered parallels.

Of course Catilina would be similar to the name Gadianton, as an epithet in different languages, because they did the same things: 

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7 minutes ago, CV75 said:

Of course Catilina would be similar to the name Gadianton, as an epithet in different languages, because they did the same things: 

Catilina was his given name, not one assigned after the fact.

The epithet in use here is latro. This is what Cicero called Catiline. It's not that Catiline was an actual latro, though. He was a senator who had served with some distinction. Latro was a term of abuse since latrones were considered the worst characters in society. Latro has been translated with many English equivalents over the centuries such as thief, robber, freebooter, marauder, rebel, highwayman, and brigand.

Cicero calling Catiline a latro was hyperbole. It would be like calling a political opponent a terrorist or fascist or nazi. It's basically the worst word you can come up with. This explains why Gadianton is merely called a robber in the Book of Mormon rather than something worse.

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14 hours ago, JarMan said:

Catilina was his given name, not one assigned after the fact.

The epithet in use here is latro. This is what Cicero called Catiline. It's not that Catiline was an actual latro, though. He was a senator who had served with some distinction. Latro was a term of abuse since latrones were considered the worst characters in society. Latro has been translated with many English equivalents over the centuries such as thief, robber, freebooter, marauder, rebel, highwayman, and brigand.

Cicero calling Catiline a latro was hyperbole. It would be like calling a political opponent a terrorist or fascist or nazi. It's basically the worst word you can come up with. This explains why Gadianton is merely called a robber in the Book of Mormon rather than something worse.

Epithets are often assigned by the "other side". Perhaps the Nephites who came up with Gadianton the robber weren't as nasty as Catiline's opponents and accusers. I wish you well on your project!

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And then we have to weigh this stuff, from Mesoamerica:

https://www.fairmormon.org/conference/august-2002/the-gadianton-robbers-in-mormons-theological-history-their-structural-role-and-plausible-identification

And Daniel Peterson on styles of warfare:

https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/jbms/vol1/iss1/11/

And there is the issue that specific  early 19th century American authors we know who had a classical education and intererests in Roman history (Solomon Spaulding and Ethan Smith) were influenced by Latinate style, whereas the Book of Mormon is not.  See John Gee, The Wrong Type of Book.

https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/wrong-type-book

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

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You should do a video on Roman history evidenced compared to BoM evidences...

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On 8/1/2020 at 10:24 PM, JarMan said:

The question is: how did Roman events get into the Book of Mormon?

My observation and experience engaging with the Book of Mormon for decades, just as myself not as a scholar even an amateur one, is that The Book of Mormon is not simply a book. (I could also say this of the Bible and of the temple and of perhaps some other sacred preparations such as the Vedas.) It is an oracle, sigil, mandala. For those uncomfortable or confused by those terms, the BofM is a hardware that allows the presence of several software, according to the needs (questions, progression) of the reader. Just as you can call up an infinite number of 'things' (knowledges or etc) on one's PC or mobile phone, which is a SINGLE hardware item.  Thus, the Book of Mormon is not one book, but an infinite number of books. Or, as I have taught my children, it is a book of codes. There are a number of Codes in the book: the code for the human heart, the code for a warning against bloodshed, the code for deliverance, etc.

In this sense, the argument about whether the Book  is EModE or 19th century fiction (another thread), or Roman, or set in South America, North America, or Europe (as I have heard even that one before); whether the history is mesoAmerican or Roman; written by Joseph or God etc. The answer is YES to all, any; and also NO to all, any. That is, it depends on the observer (reader) and it depends on the 'software' you accessing in the 'hardware'. It depends on which map of the mandala you are premising. (Mandalas are shapes/maps drawn only once, but depending on the beginning premise, the same drawing can be a map of the town, the country, or the universe OR of your life cycle.)

The Book of Mormon will continue to defy being pegged into one hole. I LOOOOVE that there is Roman history template in there! Wow!

The Book  of Mormon is not a set singular book. It is the book that YOU (each of us) read. The condition YOU are in will yield The Book of Mormon (or Bible, or Veda) that one reads; and it will lead you along to your next (higher) condition based on your heeding what you have. (Think of the Liahona and its 'new writing from time to time'.) To me, the 'historicity' is a non-item and not even needful for what purpose The Book of Mormon serves, which is an instrument of our personal progression.

I am comfortable considering Joseph as a channel for the oracle that is The Book of Mormon. Others dismiss channeling out of hand. Others are highly skeptical. I get it. But I think that channeling is a real thing. Let's see if I can think of an example that most people might agree could be an example of channeling. Perhaps Handel's Messiah?

Channel from where exactly? I'm also not really concerned with this (although curious, of course), as my definition of God is broader than most to the degree that I see only God in the universe. God gives gift after gift after gift for the blessing of mankind, and one of those gifts is The Book of Mormon.

Edited by Maidservant
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Knowing that the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible depended on Clarke's Bible Commentary, that some elements in the Pearl of Great Price depended on Thomas ****'s work and that some of Emanuel Swedenborg's work influenced Smith's new revelations in the D&C, it would not surprise me at all were some millennial Biblical Scholar to publish a paper showing a similar pattern of idea borrowing for many of the major themes within the Book of Mormon.  Heck we all ready know that Smith incorporated large portions of both the old and new testiments from his 1769 family Bible into the Book of Mormon, would it really be a surprise to learn that he carried this pattern into other chapters of the Book of Mormon as well?  It seems to me that Smith was a sponge, using the ideas of others as a catalyst to add to and expand on the ideas of others which he then incorporated into his own works.

This is not to diminish the great work that Smith was able to do by borrowing the ideas of others.

Edited by Fair Dinkum

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8 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

And there is the issue that specific  early 19th century American authors we know who had a classical education and intererests in Roman history (Solomon Spaulding and Ethan Smith) were influenced by Latinate style, whereas the Book of Mormon is not.  See John Gee, The Wrong Type of Book.

https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/wrong-type-book

I don't think we can say the Book of Mormon is not influenced by Latinate style based on what John Gee has to say (in the link you provided). He provides one example of what might be expected from a translation of a Latin text based on the Latin word inquit. But there's really no reason to expect a translator who is trying to imitate KJB language would translate as he has proposed. I do agree with his thesis, though, which is essentially that the Book of Mormon is not likely to be a 19th Century product.

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7 hours ago, 2BizE said:

You should do a video on Roman history evidenced compared to BoM evidences...

That's basically what the videos do. There is a lot more to be mentioned, though, that I left out. And I'm certain there's a lot that I've missed. I'm not a historian, but it would be great if someone with some real expertise really looked into this.

5 hours ago, Maidservant said:

 

My observation and experience engaging with the Book of Mormon for decades, just as myself not as a scholar even an amateur one, is that The Book of Mormon is not simply a book. (I could also say this of the Bible and of the temple and of perhaps some other sacred preparations such as the Vedas.) It is an oracle, sigil, mandala. For those uncomfortable or confused by those terms, the BofM is a hardware that allows the presence of several software, according to the needs (questions, progression) of the reader. Just as you can call up an infinite number of 'things' (knowledges or etc) on one's PC or mobile phone, which is a SINGLE hardware item.  Thus, the Book of Mormon is not one book, but an infinite number of books. Or, as I have taught my children, it is a book of codes. There are a number of Codes in the book: the code for the human heart, the code for a warning against bloodshed, the code for deliverance, etc.

In this sense, the argument about whether the Book  is EModE or 19th century fiction (another thread), or Roman, or set in South America, North America, or Europe (as I have heard even that one before); whether the history is mesoAmerican or Roman; written by Joseph or God etc. The answer is YES to all, any; and also NO to all, any. That is, it depends on the observer (reader) and it depends on the 'software' you accessing in the 'hardware'. It depends on which map of the mandala you are premising. (Mandalas are shapes/maps drawn only once, but depending on the beginning premise, the same drawing can be a map of the town, the country, or the universe OR of your life cycle.)

The Book of Mormon will continue to defy being pegged into one hole. I LOOOOVE that there is Roman history template in there! Wow!

The Book  of Mormon is not a set singular book. It is the book that YOU (each of us) read. The condition YOU are in will yield The Book of Mormon (or Bible, or Veda) that one reads; and it will lead you along to your next (higher) condition based on your heeding what you have. (Think of the Liahona and its 'new writing from time to time'.) To me, the 'historicity' is a non-item and not even needful for what purpose The Book of Mormon serves, which is an instrument of our personal progression.

I am comfortable considering Joseph as a channel for the oracle that is The Book of Mormon. Others dismiss channeling out of hand. Others are highly skeptical. I get it. But I think that channeling is a real thing. Let's see if I can think of an example that most people might agree could be an example of channeling. Perhaps Handel's Messiah?

Channel from where exactly? I'm also not really concerned with this (although curious, of course), as my definition of God is broader than most to the degree that I see only God in the universe. God gives gift after gift after gift for the blessing of mankind, and one of those gifts is The Book of Mormon.

To each her own. I think there are various ways to accept Roman history in the Book of Mormon without rejecting it's spiritual value. Blake Ostler would just say it was expansionism on Joseph's part. Royal Skousen might say it was a creative and cultural early modern translation. You might even make the case that it was written in total (with no underlying Nephite text) in the 17th or 19th Century by someone who was inspired. But I don't think it's debatable at this point that there is a link to Roman history.

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2 hours ago, Fair Dinkum said:

Knowing that the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible depended on Clarke's Bible Commentary, that some elements in the Pearl of Great Price depended on Thomas ****'s work and that some of Emanuel Swedenborg's work influenced Smith's new revelations in the D&C, it would not surprise me at all were some millennial Biblical Scholar to publish a paper showing a similar pattern of idea borrowing for many of the major themes within the Book of Mormon.  Heck we all ready know that Smith incorporated large portions of both the old and new testiments from his 1769 family Bible into the Book of Mormon, would it really be a surprise to learn that he carried this pattern into other chapters of the Book of Mormon as well?  It seems to me that Smith was a sponge, using the ideas of others as a catalyst to add to and expand on the ideas of others which he then incorporated into his own works.

This is not to diminish the great work that Smith was able to do by borrowing the ideas of others.

There are just so many things that Joseph would have needed to absorb to come up with the Book of Mormon. I just don't think he had the time or the education or the ability to do it. For instance, the conflict with Tacfarinas related by Tacitus doesn't jump out to the reader. It's told in several short snippets sprinkled throughout the much larger year-by-year narrative. In addition, you really need to know Sallust's The Jugurthine War to have some of the details on terrain and tactics. A casual reader could easily miss the story completely. It takes a certain amount of study and expertise just to know that the conflict lasted from 17 AD to 24 AD. Yet all of these details (and more) were plucked from the histories and make it into the Book of Mormon. This tells me it was put there by someone who knew Roman history quite well.

I've identified things in the Book of Mormon taken from Julius Caesar, Tacitus, Cicero, and 3 different works of Sallust. I've heard it remarked that the Book of Mormon contains 3 Odysseys and 2 Iliads. I would say it only has 2 Odysseys. . .but also 1 Aeneid. The point is it incorporates a wide range of Greco-Roman classical sources and I don't believe Joseph had this knowledge. Add to this all the biblical knowledge and knowledge of religious controversies, not to mention several early modern themes identified over the last few years. Joseph can't be the author.

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On 8/3/2020 at 3:13 PM, Maidservant said:

The Book of Mormon is not simply a book. (I could also say this of the Bible and of the temple and of perhaps some other sacred preparations such as the Vedas.) It is an oracle, sigil, mandala.

Whoa.

Well said

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On 8/1/2020 at 11:24 PM, JarMan said:

how did Roman events get into the Book of Mormon? Were they added by Joseph Smith or one of his contemporaries? Or were they added as part of a 17th Century production of the Book of Mormon?

Or are the parallels not really that significant? That's pretty much my take, after reviewing all your charts and listening to several 3-5 minute segments of your videos. I haven't analyzed your presentation carefully, but in all the examples I saw, it seemed like all the parallels are the types of things that will naturally have many parallels across time and cultures. None of them had that feeling of "wow, there is no way this is random coincidence." You could argue that together they provide a much stronger convergence of parallels, and in some ways I would agree with that, but a bunch of loose parallels put together (in my mind) only provide a sort of mid-level correspondence. Its interesting. But on its own it isn't persuasive, especially to audiences who don't share your assumptions and working theory. 

It strikes me as being similar to the correspondences between Lincoln and Kennedy:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln–Kennedy_coincidences_urban_legend

If you look wide enough for source material, and if you isolate parallels and filter out differences, you can probably find such correspondences with many stories. This is especially so when it comes to events like attempted coups or scenarios related to guerrilla warfare. It just strikes me as the type of narrative soil that is ideal for sprouting false positives. Interesting, but certainly not compelling. 

Edited by Ryan Dahle
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12 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Or are the parallels not really that significant? That's pretty much my take, after reviewing all your charts and listening to several 3-5 minute segments of your videos. I haven't analyzed your presentation carefully, but in all the examples I saw, it seemed like all the parallels are the types of things that will naturally have many parallels across time and cultures. None of them had that feeling of "wow, there is no way this is random coincidence." You could argue that together they provide a much stronger convergence of parallels, and in some ways I would agree with that, but a bunch of loose parallels put together (in my mind) only provide a sort of mid-level correspondence. Its interesting. But on its own it isn't persuasive, especially to audiences who don't share your assumptions and working theory. 

It strikes me as being similar to the correspondences between Lincoln and Kennedy:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln–Kennedy_coincidences_urban_legend

If you look wide enough for source material, and if you isolate parallels and filter out differences, you can probably find such correspondences with many stories. This is especially so when it comes to events like attempted coups or scenarios related to guerrilla warfare. It just strikes me as the type of narrative soil that is ideal for sprouting false positives. Interesting, but certainly not compelling. 

We know a huge amount about Lincoln and Kennedy so finding a handful of similarities isn't that significant. We know comparatively little about Catiline and even less about Gadianton. Yet almost every single detail we do know about Gadianton has a parallel with Catiline. Gadianton is, for all intents and purposes, a slightly exaggerated version of Catiline. Even his name is very similar. And both Gadianton and Catiline were referred to as "robbers" (despite this being a curious word choice). But there's much more than just the similarities between the two men. We also have to take a look at the greater context. Also, the conspiracies took place about 14 years apart.

Catiline lived in the first century BC in a republic in decline. The decline took place over a period of about 100 years. Though there were other "Catiline's" during this time, he is presented as the archetypal figure of the type of immorality that destroys republican government. Gadianton lived in the first century BC in a republic in decline. The decline took place over a period of about 80 years. Their were other "Gadianton's" during this time, but he is presented as the archetypal figure of the type of immorality that destroys republican government. Both stories are morality tales intended to send the reader the message that widespread immorality leads to a failure of representative government.

The specific details of the plots are also quite similar, as well. There were two separate plots two years apart in both the Book of Mormon and ancient Rome. The first plot involved candidates who had been rejected from being chosen for the highest office in the land. In both cases there were two aggrieved parties but one fell in line while the other conspired to take power they believed was legitimately theirs in the first place. Both conspiracies planned to kill the newly elected leader in his respective place of government (the judgment seat and the Capitol).

The second conspiracy was carried out by people associated with the first. Both planned to murder the highest government official in order to take power. Then the power would be used to kill people and take their stuff. Both conspiracies were bound with secret oaths. Catiline and Gadianton both promised people positions of power in the government and a share of the spoils in return for their support. Both conspiracies were thwarted by a person working for the legitimate government leader who infiltrated the conspiracy. Both governments used extralegal power to kill the conspiracy members thereby demonstrating the justification of taking extreme measures when necessary. Both Catiline and Gadianton fled the city soon after the failed assassination attempt to meet up with supporters outside the city. And in the end, both conspiracies waged civil war against the government and were annihilated by the government army. 

And this is only Part 1, which I initially added to the paper as an after thought. Part 2 offers an even greater number of similarities that are more specific and more clustered. And Part 3 is a little bit of bonus material. These are not a bunch of random pieces of information in the Book of Mormon and Roman history spread throughout space and time and cobbled together to create the illusion of parallels. They are tightly clustered stories from Roman history that match tightly clustered stories in the Book of Mormon. Altogether this is way beyond what could be considered mere coincidence.

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2 hours ago, JarMan said:

We know a huge amount about Lincoln and Kennedy so finding a handful of similarities isn't that significant. We know comparatively little about Catiline and even less about Gadianton. Yet almost every single detail we do know about Gadianton has a parallel with Catiline. Gadianton is, for all intents and purposes, a slightly exaggerated version of Catiline. Even his name is very similar. And both Gadianton and Catiline were referred to as "robbers" (despite this being a curious word choice). But there's much more than just the similarities between the two men. We also have to take a look at the greater context. Also, the conspiracies took place about 14 years apart.

Catiline lived in the first century BC in a republic in decline. The decline took place over a period of about 100 years. Though there were other "Catiline's" during this time, he is presented as the archetypal figure of the type of immorality that destroys republican government. Gadianton lived in the first century BC in a republic in decline. The decline took place over a period of about 80 years. Their were other "Gadianton's" during this time, but he is presented as the archetypal figure of the type of immorality that destroys republican government. Both stories are morality tales intended to send the reader the message that widespread immorality leads to a failure of representative government.

The specific details of the plots are also quite similar, as well. There were two separate plots two years apart in both the Book of Mormon and ancient Rome. The first plot involved candidates who had been rejected from being chosen for the highest office in the land. In both cases there were two aggrieved parties but one fell in line while the other conspired to take power they believed was legitimately theirs in the first place. Both conspiracies planned to kill the newly elected leader in his respective place of government (the judgment seat and the Capitol).

The second conspiracy was carried out by people associated with the first. Both planned to murder the highest government official in order to take power. Then the power would be used to kill people and take their stuff. Both conspiracies were bound with secret oaths. Catiline and Gadianton both promised people positions of power in the government and a share of the spoils in return for their support. Both conspiracies were thwarted by a person working for the legitimate government leader who infiltrated the conspiracy. Both governments used extralegal power to kill the conspiracy members thereby demonstrating the justification of taking extreme measures when necessary. Both Catiline and Gadianton fled the city soon after the failed assassination attempt to meet up with supporters outside the city. And in the end, both conspiracies waged civil war against the government and were annihilated by the government army. 

And this is only Part 1, which I initially added to the paper as an after thought. Part 2 offers an even greater number of similarities that are more specific and more clustered. And Part 3 is a little bit of bonus material. These are not a bunch of random pieces of information in the Book of Mormon and Roman history spread throughout space and time and cobbled together to create the illusion of parallels. They are tightly clustered stories from Roman history that match tightly clustered stories in the Book of Mormon. Altogether this is way beyond what could be considered mere coincidence.

May I offer a friendly critique about the parallels from the second conspiracy?

1. "The second conspiracy was carried out by people associated with the first." This is true. I would say the central character of Helaman 1-2 is neither Gadianton nor Helaman III, who only appear in the second chapter. Nor is it any of the sons of Pahoran or the Lamanites. Rather, I'd say it's Kishkumen the assassin, the bridge between the events. Gadianton only comes on the scene in time for the second conspiracy, as is made clear by Helaman 2:4. It's a bit of a complication to the parallel but not too big. 

2. "Both planned to murder the highest government official in order to take power." Seems accurate.

3. "Then the power would be used to kill people and take their stuff." Relatively common to coups but yes. How much pillage was planned by Cataline, though? 

3. "Both conspiracies were bound with secret oaths." Kinda the definition of a conspiracy. Whether it's formal diabolical covenants or sinister gentlemen's agreements, a conspiracy isn't a conspiracy without promises of conspiratorial fidelity. 

4. "Catiline and Gadianton both promised people positions of power in the government and a share of the spoils in return for their support." Heck, this is common to any change of government, legitimate or not. What do we call Cabinet appointments? Paging President Grant.

5. "Both conspiracies were thwarted by a person working for the legitimate government leader who infiltrated the conspiracy." True. If a conspiracy fails, this is often why. This parallel only holds if viewed in a very broad way though. Helaman is saved by his anonymous servant, who offs Kishkumen and then tells him. Cicero, meanwhile, was warned beforehand by Quintus Curius, and saved himself by posting extra guards. 

6. "Both governments used extralegal power to kill the conspiracy members thereby demonstrating the justification of taking extreme measures when necessary." I have to disagree here. Cicero had the conspirators killed extralegally, it is true, but Helaman 2:10 is pretty clear that Helaman III had every intention of doing things by the book. Unless, of course, you are referring to the servant sucker-stabbing Kishkumen, in which case that's a stretch in my subjective opinion. A society with a Nephi/Laban precedent would be hard pressed to declare the servant's actions illegal. 

7. "Both Catiline and Gadianton fled the city soon after the failed assassination attempt to meet up with supporters outside the city." True, though outed conspirators fleeing the capital is hardly distinctive. 

8. "And in the end, both conspiracies waged civil war against the government and were annihilated by the government army." Hold up. That "in the end" is doing a lot of work here. Gadianton Inc. heads for the hills right after they fail to kill Helaman, and that's it. Helaman 2:11: "when Helaman sent forth to take them they could nowhere be found." There's no army, no climactic battle with Hybrida and Petreius, no heroic death for Gadianton at the head of his troops. They just vanish...until 20 years pass and they infiltrate the government entirely and take the society over from within. They have civil wars within themselves 10 years later, as attested by Helaman 11:1-5, but they already control the government and are only dislodged by a divine siege. Helaman 11:24 has the Gadianton torch leaving the Nephites and going abroad to the Lamanites, and the Nephites notably fail to destroy them until the 3 Nephi 4, by which time the Gadiantons represent a separate state. From then on the Gadiantons constitute the inverse of the pride cycle until they team up with the Lamanites to effect the final destruction of the Nephites. There's no parallel there. 

You've got some interesting parallels going on here, it's true, but some of it might deserve a revisit. 

Edited by OGHoosier
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4 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

May I offer a friendly critique about the parallels from the second conspiracy?

1. "The second conspiracy was carried out by people associated with the first." This is true. I would say the central character of Helaman 1-2 is neither Gadianton nor Helaman III, who only appear in the second chapter. Nor is it any of the sons of Pahoran or the Lamanites. Rather, I'd say it's Kishkumen the assassin, the bridge between the events. Gadianton only comes on the scene in time for the second conspiracy, as is made clear by Helaman 2:4. It's a bit of a complication to the parallel but not too big. 

2. "Both planned to murder the highest government official in order to take power." Seems accurate.

3. "Then the power would be used to kill people and take their stuff." Relatively common to coups but yes. How much pillage was planned by Cataline, though? 

3. "Both conspiracies were bound with secret oaths." Kinda the definition of a conspiracy. Whether it's formal diabolical covenants or sinister gentlemen's agreements, a conspiracy isn't a conspiracy without promises of conspiratorial fidelity. 

4. "Catiline and Gadianton both promised people positions of power in the government and a share of the spoils in return for their support." Heck, this is common to any change of government, legitimate or not. What do we call Cabinet appointments? Paging President Grant.

5. "Both conspiracies were thwarted by a person working for the legitimate government leader who infiltrated the conspiracy." True. If a conspiracy fails, this is often why. This parallel only holds if viewed in a very broad way though. Helaman is saved by his anonymous servant, who offs Kishkumen and then tells him. Cicero, meanwhile, was warned beforehand by Quintus Curius, and saved himself by posting extra guards. 

6. "Both governments used extralegal power to kill the conspiracy members thereby demonstrating the justification of taking extreme measures when necessary." I have to disagree here. Cicero had the conspirators killed extralegally, it is true, but Helaman 2:10 is pretty clear that Helaman III had every intention of doing things by the book. Unless, of course, you are referring to the servant sucker-stabbing Kishkumen, in which case that's a stretch in my subjective opinion. A society with a Nephi/Laban precedent would be hard pressed to declare the servant's actions illegal. 

7. "Both Catiline and Gadianton fled the city soon after the failed assassination attempt to meet up with supporters outside the city." True, though outed conspirators fleeing the capital is hardly distinctive. 

8. "And in the end, both conspiracies waged civil war against the government and were annihilated by the government army." Hold up. That "in the end" is doing a lot of work here. Gadianton Inc. heads for the hills right after they fail to kill Helaman, and that's it. Helaman 2:11: "when Helaman sent forth to take them they could nowhere be found." There's no army, no climactic battle with Hybrida and Petreius, no heroic death for Gadianton at the head of his troops. They just vanish...until 20 years pass and they infiltrate the government entirely and take the society over from within. They have civil wars within themselves 10 years later, as attested by Helaman 11:1-5, but they already control the government and are only dislodged by a divine siege. Helaman 11:24 has the Gadianton torch leaving the Nephites and going abroad to the Lamanites, and the Nephites notably fail to destroy them until the 3 Nephi 4, by which time the Gadiantons represent a separate state. From then on the Gadiantons constitute the inverse of the pride cycle until they team up with the Lamanites to effect the final destruction of the Nephites. There's no parallel there. 

You've got some interesting parallels going on here, it's true, but some of it might deserve a revisit. 

Thanks for the critique. Let me expound upon some of your observations.

1) The tie here is the "band" of conspirators. Kishkumen is the only one we know by name, but a band consists of several people. When Gadianton becomes the leader in Helaman 2, we can't be sure if he was already part of the band two years earlier or if he joined in the intervening time. The thing is, the sources are mixed on whether Catiline was involved in the first conspiracy. Sallust suggests he was while Suetonius does not. So, a little like the Book of Mormon, there's some ambiguity on this point.

3a) Catiline planned to bring back proscriptions. Proscription was a process previously used by Marius and Sulla where political enemies' names were posted in public. Citizens were encouraged to kill or capture those on the list and the government would seize their property and reward the citizens out of the stolen loot. Catiline had taken part in the previous proscriptions. It's even alleged that he killed a man he hated, stole his property, and then got the man's name added to the proscription list after the fact. The general citizens taking part in this killing and plunder is just the type of thing the Book of Mormon describes.

3b) The key here is that these secret oaths consisted of drinking blood from a human body mixed with wine, according to Sallust. Later historians claim the secret oaths involved human sacrifice or cannibalism. This matches the sinister insinuation of these oaths we repeatedly get from Mormon. In the picture of the conspiracy from my first video you’ll notice the secret hand grasp. In the back is Catiline holding up his hand in what looks like a secret sign. This picture is from the mid 1600s and demonstrates how early modern people likely viewed this story. So this is another match with the Book of Mormon.

4) Yes, this is not uncommon. But this fact is specifically listed in both stories.

5) This is not an exact parallel, as you point out, but still close enough to be significant in my opinion. The point is that both Cicero and Helaman were astute leaders who used intelligence in order to thwart their own assassinations. Mormon likes to make points about effective leadership by having his leaders do effective things.

6) I am talking about stabbing Kishkumen. The point isn't whether the Nephites would think that was extralegal. The point is whether the author's intended audience might think this action was legally or morally justifiable. There has been much debate about Cicero's actions and whether they were legally and morally justified. By telling the story of the servant stabbing Kishkumen, the author is weighing in on this debate and saying, yes, Cicero was justified (or more generally, that a person in a similar position as Cicero is morally justified).

7) On its own this isn't that distinctive. But I think it's still important to mention as one more similarity. The sheer number of correlations, whether distinctive or not, really carry a lot of weight, particularly when they occur in the same context. It’s not like we’re talking about a completely different story where someone flees the city  

8 ) I recognize there are major differences here. The intervening time period being the biggest. We don't even know if Gadianton was around for this final conflict in Helaman 11. However, the point is that the conspiracy was not just a kill-the-leader-and-take-his-place movement. It was big enough and gathered enough supporters that it could wage war on the legitimate government. (This is an important point in the Book of Mormon because Gadianton Robbers are meant to represent an existential danger to everyone, not just a conflict at the top.) In Catiline's case he had horde's of disaffected veterans from the Sullan wars chomping at the bit to go on the rampage again. So he could immediately wage war. Perhaps the Book of Mormon author felt an immediate confrontation was unreasonable since he hadn't created the backstory for it. The assassination attempt was the backstory and it took some time after that to build a movement and an army. At any rate, Sallust makes a point of telling us that every single member of the conspiracy was killed in the final battle. Mormon tells us the Gadianton robbers were made "extinct." This sounds to me like they were also killed down to the last man. So altogether I think the similarities here are an important part of the overall narrative because it helps Mormon construct his morality tale. 

Edited by JarMan

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On 8/3/2020 at 7:38 PM, JarMan said:

There are just so many things that Joseph would have needed to absorb to come up with the Book of Mormon. I just don't think he had the time or the education or the ability to do it. For instance, the conflict with Tacfarinas related by Tacitus doesn't jump out to the reader. It's told in several short snippets sprinkled throughout the much larger year-by-year narrative. In addition, you really need to know Sallust's The Jugurthine War to have some of the details on terrain and tactics. A casual reader could easily miss the story completely. It takes a certain amount of study and expertise just to know that the conflict lasted from 17 AD to 24 AD. Yet all of these details (and more) were plucked from the histories and make it into the Book of Mormon. This tells me it was put there by someone who knew Roman history quite well.

I've identified things in the Book of Mormon taken from Julius Caesar, Tacitus, Cicero, and 3 different works of Sallust. I've heard it remarked that the Book of Mormon contains 3 Odysseys and 2 Iliads. I would say it only has 2 Odysseys. . .but also 1 Aeneid. The point is it incorporates a wide range of Greco-Roman classical sources and I don't believe Joseph had this knowledge. Add to this all the biblical knowledge and knowledge of religious controversies, not to mention several early modern themes identified over the last few years. Joseph can't be the author.

I thought Joseph was a genius level bricolage artist, or something.  

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11 hours ago, JarMan said:

And this is only Part 1, which I initially added to the paper as an after thought. Part 2 offers an even greater number of similarities that are more specific and more clustered. And Part 3 is a little bit of bonus material. These are not a bunch of random pieces of information in the Book of Mormon and Roman history spread throughout space and time and cobbled together to create the illusion of parallels. They are tightly clustered stories from Roman history that match tightly clustered stories in the Book of Mormon. Altogether this is way beyond what could be considered mere coincidence.

Do Parts 2 and 3 that you referred to above correspond to Parts 2 and 3 of the videos you posted? Or are all three videos just Part 1? 

Also, would you mind sending me a master list of the correspondences as a chart?

 

 

 

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