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9 hours ago, stemelbow said:

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

I've certainly never claimed this. I've never even heard the word "bricolage."

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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

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-

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 centr

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8 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

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?

Parts 2 and 3 refer to the corresponding videos.

I can email you the powerpoint from the videos that has all of the charts. PM me your email address.

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39 minutes ago, JarMan said:

I've certainly never claimed this. I've never even heard the word "bricolage."

Should read Teryl givens. His position has been Joseph practiced inspired bricolage when composing scripture--meaning he pulled from sources and that was inspiration.

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3 hours ago, stemelbow said:

Should read Teryl givens. His position has been Joseph practiced inspired bricolage when composing scripture--meaning he pulled from sources and that was inspiration.

If I have Terryl correctly, he thinks that Joseph used bricolage on the facsimiles and for the Book of Abraham in general. It doesn't necessarily extend to all Restoration scripture. 

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11 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

If I have Terryl correctly, he thinks that Joseph used bricolage on the facsimiles and for the Book of Abraham in general. It doesn't necessarily extend to all Restoration scripture. 

I think he brought it up in the Pearl of Great Price book he and Hauglid did.  But I do believe his context is not limited to Abraham nor the PofGP.  He seems to be suggesting Joseph used such a method was inspired in his bricoleur efforts for all the scripture he rendered.  Not just BoA.  But, memory here....could be wrong.  

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11 hours ago, stemelbow said:

I think he brought it up in the Pearl of Great Price book he and Hauglid did.  But I do believe his context is not limited to Abraham nor the PofGP.  He seems to be suggesting Joseph used such a method was inspired in his bricoleur efforts for all the scripture he rendered.  Not just BoA.  But, memory here....could be wrong.  

Mine could be wrong too. If I recall correctly, his discussion of Book of Mormon bricolage in The Pearl of Greatest Price was primarily about Nephi's use of Isaiah, which represents a form of bricolage. I don't recall him talking about Joseph Smith using it. 

He had some remarks on bricolage, so I'm told, in the New Perspectives on Translation conference at FaithMatters. I have yet to fully watch it, so I could be wrong. 

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Below are two charts from JarMan's PowerPoint presentation, which he graciously furnished to me for critique. I've added a column to the right, which comments on the parallels in the chart. I think, all in all, that I have lots of reservations about accepting these parallels as evidence of derivation. Part of this is because I think a lot of other things are going on in the Book of Mormon that point to ancient America. Part of it is also because I think it is difficult to get the text with unknown EModE authorship, subsequently redacted by unknown authors, into the hands of Joseph Smith and then smuggled into the translation sessions without the witnesses noticing. 

But, even without these conflicting assumptions and reservations, I just think there are too many problems with the parallels that are proposed. 

 

Catiline’s War

Book of Mormon

My Evaluation

Catilina

Gadianton

While there are similarities in each syllable, there are also differences in each syllable. Not one of them is a precise match. Especially the last two syllables diverge in noteworthy ways. The sounds “lina” (or alternatively just “ina”) and “anton” are just not that similar.

Gad(d)ianton could easily belong to a different naming tradition altogether, as reflected in similar names such as “Morianton” and “Corianton” in the Book of Mormon. The fact that these names all have the distinctive five-letter “ianton” suggests that they probably don’t all derive from “Catilina” (which as discussed above, has a very different syllabic ending).

Also, it has been speculated Gad(d)ianton (notably, it is twice spelled with two d’s in the Original Manuscript, providing another possible divergence from Catilina) may derive from the Hebrew word for robber, which notably begins with a G and has a double D in the middle (also like Giddianhi, who is also a robber). While speculative and not demonstrably derivative, this offers a plausible alternative etiology to Catalina, which as pointed above has more than a few deficiencies of its own when it comes to proving derivation.

Contemporaries referred to Catiline and his followers as latrones

Mormon refers to Gadianton and his followers as “robbers”

This seems to be just a general similarity, seeing that “robbers” were widespread throughout antiquity and that various ancient societies had words to designate them.

 

Archetype of Roman society’s ills leading to violence and breakdown of Republican government

Archetype of Nephite society’s ills leading to violence and breakdown of Republican government

More than 80 different individuals, some of whom predate Catiline, are characterized as either latrones (Latin) or leistes (Greek) by Roman historians, including notables such as Viriatus, Tacfarinas, Spartacus, Catiline, John of Gishala, Bulla Felix, Maternus, and Clemens. (See Bandits in the Roman Empire: Myth and Reality)

Does Cataline, in particular, really have the same degree of unique and enduring archetypical significance that Gadianton held in the Book of Mormon, or was he just one of many latrones discussed in the Roman histories in relation to the decline of the Republic?

First Catilinarian Conspiracy

Helaman 1

 

Began in 66 BC

Began in about 52 BC

General time period, but not close enough to be very remarkable.

Formed by Autronius, who had been prevented from becoming consul

Formed by Paanchi, who had been prevented from becoming chief judge

Many political conspiracies are formed by people who were denied power they thought they deserved. So, once again, not very remarkable.

And the text never says that Paanchi formed the type of conspiracy that was carried out by Kishkumen. It actually never says he was involved in a conspiracy at all. It seems his actions were more overt. He was tried and executed for inciting rebellion, generally, not for failing to carry out a specific assassination attempt.

It was unnamed people who supported Paanchi who sent Kishkumen after Paanchi died.

Desired to set himself (and others) over the government

Desired to make himself chief judge

Again, very general. And when you get into the specifics involved, there are all sorts of differences in the type of government and what little is known about these individuals.

Plan was unsuccessful

Plan was unsuccessful

This is just a 50/50 chance. Either a plan works or it doesn’t. Also, things are getting conflated here. Paanchi was unsuccessful, but the text never says he set up a plan to assassinate the chief judge on his throne. His attempted coup is never directly tied to the Gadianton robbers, and instead is couched as general rebellion.

In contrast, the first assassination attempt by Kishkumen actually is successful, whereas the purported attempt by Cataline wasn’t. So I think this parallel breaks down pretty strongly when the details are looked at more carefully.

Plan was to kill new consuls on the Capitol or senators at the senate house

Conspirators ended up killing new chief judge on the judgement seat

This is a better parallel. However, the disparity in the number of targets and the separate locations for different targets reduces its significance quite a bit. And, as noted above, differences in who was involved in which specific plan and how it actually turned out is important.

Historical sources are mixed on whether Catiline was involved

Book of Mormon is unclear on whether Gadianton was involved

But there is another difference here. Historical sources say that Catiline was involved. Whereas, nothing in the Book of Mormon gives us any direct hint that Gadianton was involved in Paanchi’s rebellion. 

The link between Gadianton and Catiline can only be made by twice reading him into the equation where the text doesn’t say anything about him (first, when it comes to Paanchi’s rebellion, and second when it comes to Kishkumen’s successful assassination attempt).    

Second Catilinarian Conspiracy

Helaman 2, 11

 

Began two years after the first conspiracy

Began two years after the first conspiracy

In my opinion, the notable differences in the conspiracies mentioned above lessen the significance of this two year gap.

Desired to murder others to obtain their wealth

Desired to murder others to obtain their wealth

A desire for material wealth is not directly mentioned as a motive in the Book of Mormon. It seems the “robbery” involved is more about stealing a position of power through murder.

Catiline promised “magistries and priesthoods” to his followers in exchange for support

Gadianton promised “power and authority” to his followers in exchange for support

Most conspiracies involve promised rewards for the recipients involved. These seems too general to be that meaningful.

Attempted to murder consul

Attempted to murder chief judge

The Catilinian conspiracy also involved arson and the murder of “a large portion of the senators” (according to Wikipedia). It was an elaborate plan with many different players helping in different ways. This differs from the sparse details and the lone Kishkumen in the Book of Mormon.

Assassination attempt thwarted by informant in the conspiracy

Assassination attempt thwarted by spy inside conspiracy

There are a lot of differences here in specific details, though, regarding the informant and how the conspiracy was thwarted. So, once again, a fairly general parallel with lots of notable differences.

Catiline soon fled the city with other conspiracy members after failed assassination attempt

Gadianton soon fled the city with other conspiracy members after failed assassination attempt

Pretty typical for people to flee after failed assassination attempts.

Co-conspirators killed (arguably) extralegally, but this action is presented as morally justifiable

Co-conspirator killed (arguably) extralegally, but this action is presented as morally justifiable

The circumstances are very different. One group of conspirators were caught, convicted by the senate, and prematurely executed. Kishkumen was stabbed in the heart by the informant himself without any hearing or anything.

And the legality of the situation in the Book of Mormon is simply unknown because all the specific details of the situation, motivation, and legal statutes and precedents in Nephite culture are unknown.

Rumored to have used secret oaths to bind the conspiracy

Used secret oaths to bind the conspiracy

Probably typical of ancient conspiracies, especially if the Book of Mormon’s warning about their ultimate source is to be believed.

Waged civil war against Rome

Waged civil war against the Nephites

Time interval needs to be taken into account, as well as many differences in the intervening narrative events, themes, and so forth. 

Entire army killed in final battle

Became “extinct” as a result of final Nephite actions

It becomes immediately clear that even though the Gadianton robbers become “extinct” in Helaman 11:10 they are resurrected again in the same chapter (v. 26) and continue to play an enduring role until the Savior visits the Nephites. Gadianton has an enduring archetypical function that Cataline doesn’t seem to live up to.  

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Thanks, Ryan, for taking some time to look at this (Part 1, anyway). I've been studying this story for a couple of years, now, and there are some things that just won't be apparent from a cursory reading of the text or from a summary on Wikipedia. One thing to keep in mind is that the story of the Second Catilinarian Conspiracy was the most published Roman history during the early modern period. It inspired early modern art and several plays, most famously Ben Johnson's 1611 Catiline His Conspiracy. It's still alive and well today. Modern historians read this story differently than early modern readers who, pretty much, took the story at face value. The story was meant by Sallust to be a morality tale with a particular message: Immorality and luxuriousness in society leads to an environment in which wicked people are emboldened to take over government and inflict mass murder and confiscation of property on the people. But bold, decisive action in the form of extralegal killing is justifiable in order to save the republic. These are also the themes we see with Mormon's morality tale. So, thematically, the stories are almost identical.

Now, of course there are some differences in these stories. Despite some similarities, the governmental and social systems are different between the Romans and Nephites. This leads to some easy substitutions such as selecting a new chief judge because of death vs an annual election (conflict trigger), chief judge vs consul (the object of the assassination attempt), and the judgment seat vs Capitol (the place). Where a substitute isn't needed we get numerous direct correspondences such as the motives, methods and oaths of the conspiracies. These direct hits can't simply be dismissed because they supposedly occur in every conspiracy. They don't. Or, when they do occur, they often aren't mentioned. There is precious little space devoted to the Book of Mormon story yet most details have some correspondence to the story of Catiline.

Some of the least obvious correspondences are the most important. The fact that Kishkumen was killed extra-legally may not seem that important. But the corresponding event in the Roman story is extremely important. I've found dozens of papers discussing this issue covering several centuries. Here's an excerpt from a late 19th Century source:

Quote

No State trial, except that perhaps of Charles I., has ever been the subject of so much controversy as that which consigned Lentulus and his companions to the executioner. The clamour against Cicero's action began a few days later and never ceased until he was driven into banishment by a vote of the People. This condemnation was solemnly reversed, and the exile restored in triumph eighteen months later. But after nineteen centuries the controversy still rages, and the question is eagerly debated whether Cicero's act was that of a bold and public-spirited magistrate, who at a critical moment used his legitimate powers with rigour and discretion, or whether it was a judicial murder, perpetrated without legal warrant by a timid and self-seeking partisan.

There was simply no direct substitute Mormon could have supplied for these events in the Book of Mormon since the Roman controversy is so complicated. It involves many aspects of Roman law, such as what powers a consul has under martial law, and the deliberation of an advisory body (the Senate) not present with the Nephites. In the Book of Mormon we get a simplified version of the moral/legal conundrum. Helaman's servant can choose to act immediately and kill Kishkumen or take a traditional, but risky, path to justice. He faces essentially the same moral (if not legal) dilemma that faced Cicero. And, like Cicero, he opted for immediate, decisive action that saved the republic.

The word, robber (latro), here is also quite important. The point is that Catiline was not literally a latro. He didn't roam the countryside looking for towns to pillage or travelers to rob. He was a Senator of very high rank, having just been the governor of Africa. He was twice a candidate for consul. But he was also Cicero's political enemy and Cicero chose to demonize him by calling him a latro. Essentially he was being called a terrorist or a fascist or a Nazi in modern terms. He was being called the worst political invective possible. In the same way, Gadianton is not really a robber. He's a politician. He's labeled a robber, but this label doesn't entirely make sense. Latro is a word that doesn't have an English equivalent since it was a metaphorical term unique to the ancient Roman milieu. That's why it seems out of place in the Book of Mormon.

11 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

It becomes immediately clear that even though the Gadianton robbers become “extinct” in Helaman 11:10 they are resurrected again in the same chapter (v. 26) and continue to play an enduring role until the Savior visits the Nephites. Gadianton has an enduring archetypical function that Cataline doesn’t seem to live up to.

On the contrary, Gadianton has a ways to go to live up to the reputation of Catiline. As I pointed out earlier, his story was the most published of the early modern world. Also, I address Helaman 11 in my paper. I point out that the first incarnation of robbers went extinct in this chapter and that they reform later on in the same chapter. But when they reform they are no longer the Catiline-type robbers. They are the Tacfarinas-type. The latro Tacfarinas is the subject of my second video. This incarnation of robbers is no longer looking to assassinate political leaders and gain control of the government. Instead, they are nomadic hills-men looking for booty or to reclaim their lands through guerrilla warfare. Eventually they pose a real existential threat and are defeated in a seven year war that lasts from 17 AD to 24 AD (or thereabouts). This is true for both the Roman version and the Book of Mormon version of events.

Quote

Also, things are getting conflated here. Paanchi was unsuccessful, but the text never says he set up a plan to assassinate the chief judge on his throne. His attempted coup is never directly tied to the Gadianton robbers, and instead is couched as general rebellion.

But there is another difference here. Historical sources say that Catiline was involved. Whereas, nothing in the Book of Mormon gives us any direct hint that Gadianton was involved in Paanchi’s rebellion. 

The link between Gadianton and Catiline can only be made by twice reading him into the equation where the text doesn’t say anything about him (first, when it comes to Paanchi’s rebellion, and second when it comes to Kishkumen’s successful assassination attempt).

I think you've misread the Book of Mormon story on some of these points. Paanchi was involved in the first coup attempt (Helaman 1:7). Like Autronius, in the First Catilinarian Conspiracy, he was brought to justice for this attempt (Helaman 1:8) (though it was about three years later for Autronius). Paanchi had many followers who then sent Kishkumen to murder Pahoran (Helaman 1:9). In the second chapter we see Kishkumen again with the same followers of Paanchi that sent him to murder Pahoran (Helaman 1:11, Helaman 2:3). So it's the same group of people in both coup attempts, only now in the second one we are introduced to Gadianton who has assumed leadership. He could have been involved in the first coup or subsequent assassination since it was the same group both times, but we can't know for sure. 

Quote

A desire for material wealth is not directly mentioned as a motive in the Book of Mormon. It seems the “robbery” involved is more about stealing a position of power through murder.

I don't think this holds up. Their stated purpose was "to murder, and to rob, and to gain power" (Helaman 2:8). This indicates rob means rob. Also, Helaman 6:21 is pretty clear that they stole and plundered people's wealth. In fact, this verse sounds just like the proscriptions in Rome where the normal citizens took part in the murder and plunder.

11 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

While there are similarities in each syllable, there are also differences in each syllable. Not one of them is a precise match. Especially the last two syllables diverge in noteworthy ways. The sounds “lina” (or alternatively just “ina”) and “anton” are just not that similar.

Gad(d)ianton could easily belong to a different naming tradition altogether, as reflected in similar names such as “Morianton” and “Corianton” in the Book of Mormon. The fact that these names all have the distinctive five-letter “ianton” suggests that they probably don’t all derive from “Catilina” (which as discussed above, has a very different syllabic ending).

Also, it has been speculated Gad(d)ianton (notably, it is twice spelled with two d’s in the Original Manuscript, providing another possible divergence from Catilina) may derive from the Hebrew word for robber, which notably begins with a G and has a double D in the middle (also like Giddianhi, who is also a robber). While speculative and not demonstrably derivative, this offers a plausible alternative etiology to Catalina, which as pointed above has more than a few deficiencies of its own when it comes to proving derivation.

Ultimately the similarities between the two names is in the eye of the beholder, but I don't think you've given this particular point a fair shake. For those that don't know, Catiline is the Anglicized version of the Latin Catilina, pronounced cat-i-LEEN-uh. Cat is remarkably similar to Gad. G is just the soft version of C and d is the soft version of t. They are almost the same syllable. There are similarities in each syllable, with both having stress on the third of four syllables. They roll off your tongue very similarly. The double-d in Gadianton is a red-herring and the fact that Giddianhi is also very similar to Catilina only strengthens my point because now we have two robbers that sound very much like Catilina.

As strong as these similarities are, they are only Part 1 and I believe Part 2 offers an even stronger match. If you believe in the traditional explanation of the Book of Mormon try taking these similarities and turning them around. Pretend we found a lost codex with this story from somewhere in meso-America (or the Heartland, if that's your thing) dating to within just a few years of the story. This would easily overwhelm all other evidence for the Book of Mormon's historicity. NHM (the best evidence there is, imo) pales in comparison.

Edited by JarMan
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14 hours ago, JarMan said:

Now, of course there are some differences in these stories.

There are more than "some" differences in the stories. There are a ton of differences. Basically all of the similarities are at the general or thematic level. As soon as you get very granular everything starts to look very different. 

14 hours ago, JarMan said:

Some of the least obvious correspondences are the most important. The fact that Kishkumen was killed extra-legally may not seem that important. But the corresponding event in the Roman story is extremely important. I've found dozens of papers discussing this issue covering several centuries. Here's an excerpt from a late 19th Century source:

Quote

No State trial, except that perhaps of Charles I., has ever been the subject of so much controversy as that which consigned Lentulus and his companions to the executioner. The clamour against Cicero's action began a few days later and never ceased until he was driven into banishment by a vote of the People. This condemnation was solemnly reversed, and the exile restored in triumph eighteen months later. But after nineteen centuries the controversy still rages, and the question is eagerly debated whether Cicero's act was that of a bold and public-spirited magistrate, who at a critical moment used his legitimate powers with rigour and discretion, or whether it was a judicial murder, perpetrated without legal warrant by a timid and self-seeking partisan.

There was simply no direct substitute Mormon could have supplied for these events in the Book of Mormon since the Roman controversy is so complicated. It involves many aspects of Roman law, such as what powers a consul has under martial law, and the deliberation of an advisory body (the Senate) not present with the Nephites. In the Book of Mormon we get a simplified version of the moral/legal conundrum. Helaman's servant can choose to act immediately and kill Kishkumen or take a traditional, but risky, path to justice. He faces essentially the same moral (if not legal) dilemma that faced Cicero. And, like Cicero, he opted for immediate, decisive action that saved the republic.

I actually thought this was one of the biggest stretches. The Book of Mormon's version is so "simplified" that it is essentially non-similar to the other story. There is no discussion about the extra-legality or morality of slaying Kishkumen. We have no idea what the specific circumstances were. And therefore what ends up being an important legal issue in the story of Catiline ends up being ... well, a non-issue in the Book of Mormon. Assuming that this disparity exists because "the Roman controversy is so complicated" just doesn't cut it for me. The Book of Mormon has numerous legal cases that all have complex legal implications. If someone were just making up this story in the Book of Mormon and basing it on the Catilinian conspiracy, there are all sorts of ways the author could have tailored it more closely to the Roman narrative, without having to get into the nitty gritty of every detail of Roman law--for instance, having more conspirators getting caught, having some body of the Nephite government (e.g. lower judges) deliberate about the legality of their execution and make a decision without the chief judged, and then finally having them executed on the spot (like Zemnarihah), followed by a controversy about the execution. 

Instead, Kishkumen is alone. He doesn't get "caught" and brought before leaders; he just gets killed. He gets killed by the informant and not by the chief judge (more analogous to Cicero). And specific details about his slaying (the informant's mindset and motivation, the precise location, and any details about avoidability or exigencies) are so few that there is really nothing much to say about the legality of it. The only detail we get is that Helaman wanted to catch the other conspirators "that they might be executed according to the law" (Helaman 2:10). And this details makes it seem like whatever was going to happen to the conspirators was going to be "according to the law" and not antithetical to it. And because Helaman is a favored protagonist, readers are invited to see his willingness to comply with the law as being accurate. So it was the chief judged (analogous to Cicero) who apparently wants to do things "by the book," in contrast to Cicero, who acted extra-legally. There is no lasting political controversy or fallout about the slaying of Kishkumen. 

We are left only with a general correspondence about a foiled assassination plot. 

Edited by Ryan Dahle
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14 hours ago, JarMan said:

Essentially he was being called a terrorist or a fascist or a Nazi in modern terms. He was being called the worst political invective possible. In the same way, Gadianton is not really a robber. He's a politician. He's labeled a robber, but this label doesn't entirely make sense. Latro is a word that doesn't have an English equivalent since it was a metaphorical term unique to the ancient Roman milieu. That's why it seems out of place in the Book of Mormon

I'm not sure I follow your logic. The Book of Mormon's use of the word seems perfectly suitable. Gadianton's group acted as a subversive band who opposed the current government order and was involved in fomenting internal dissent. It also says that he was "exceedingly expert in many words, and also in his craft, to carry on the secret work of murder and of robbery; therefore he became the leader of the band of Kishkumen" (Helaman 10:4). He apparently wasn't just a disgruntled politician seeking for power. He and his band of followers engaged in actual acts of robbery as well as secret murder in addition to their efforts to overthrow the government. He may very well have started out as an inside political influencer of some sort, but he clearly became an outsider throughout the course of events. Mormon, writing about him many years after the fact, had both practical and metaphorical reasons to refer to Gadianton as a "robber." IMO, he and his followers fit the bill pretty well I think from a society that inherited an ANE legal perspective:

In essence, I think you are being way too narrow in what could and couldn't possibly make sense in an English translation of ancient American text about a society that has a legal and literary heritage from the ANE. IMO, robbers seems like a very fitting English word for Gadianton and his followers, especially if the text uses the word systematically in a way that correlates with an ancient word of a similar connotation.

This should offer a helpful comparative study that further explores the complicated nuances of the issue:

https://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/gjicl/vol1/iss1/8/ 

And here is a very informative book on the topic that you should probably look into if you haven't already (I only perused it, but it looked helpful):

Bandits in the Roman Empire: Myth and Reality

 

 

 

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13 hours ago, JarMan said:

I think you've misread the Book of Mormon story on some of these points. Paanchi was involved in the first coup attempt (Helaman 1:7).

Nope. I read that. But there is no mention of some clandestine coup or plot. It only says "he was about to flatter away those people to rise up in rebellion against their brethren." It only gives the impression that he was trying to rally the people to his cause. 

13 hours ago, JarMan said:

Paanchi had many followers who then sent Kishkumen to murder Pahoran (Helaman 1:9).

But Paanchi was already dead before we hear anything about his followers and their plot. He can't be linked to their conspiracy, at least not based on the details Mormon gives us. The parallel has to be invented by conjecture only. 

13 hours ago, JarMan said:

In the second chapter we see Kishkumen again with the same followers of Paanchi that sent him to murder Pahoran (Helaman 1:11, Helaman 2:3).

Again, I don't see any mention of Paanchi in those verses. He was already dead for inciting rebellion. It seems, rather, that Kishkumen is the one directing things at this point. He is the leader. Paanchi is already old news and the narrative is going in a new direction with a new antagonists. 

13 hours ago, JarMan said:

So it's the same group of people in both coup attempts, only now in the second one we are introduced to Gadianton who has assumed leadership. He could have been involved in the first coup or subsequent assassination since it was the same group both times, but we can't know for sure. 

Well, yes, but again Paanchi was never part of it, that we know. And Gadianton was never part of the first assassination attempt that we know. It is inference for both characters. Which is my point. You have to read their involvement into the text, without any strong reasons to do so other than the fact that there is a controversial conspiracy theory from the Roman period that seems like a better fit if they are both involved where the text is silent on the matter. 

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13 hours ago, JarMan said:
Quote

A desire for material wealth is not directly mentioned as a motive in the Book of Mormon. It seems the “robbery” involved is more about stealing a position of power through murder.

I don't think this holds up. Their stated purpose was "to murder, and to rob, and to gain power" (Helaman 2:8). This indicates rob means rob. Also, Helaman 6:21 is pretty clear that they stole and plundered people's wealth. In fact, this verse sounds just like the proscriptions in Rome where the normal citizens took part in the murder and plunder.

Fair point. I guess what I meant was more that the text doesn't say specifically that Gadianton promised his followers specific types of weath. Their general aim was to "to murder, and to rob, and to gain power" but their specific plot to assassinate the chief judge isn't tied to specific monetary or material rewards. The promise of wealth is only couched as a vague agenda of the group. This, I believe, is in contrast to the specific promises of material wealth that were given to those involved in the Catilinian conspiracy.

But perhaps I'm wrong about that. I'm not too familiar with all the details of Roman episode yet. But, overall, I think the parallel is a valid one, but also a very general one. Promising co-conspirators wealth and power is hardly a novel idea.  

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13 hours ago, JarMan said:

Ultimately the similarities between the two names is in the eye of the beholder, but I don't think you've given this particular point a fair shake. For those that don't know, Catiline is the Anglicized version of the Latin Catilina, pronounced cat-i-LEEN-uh. Cat is remarkably similar to Gad. G is just the soft version of C and d is the soft version of t. They are almost the same syllable. There are similarities in each syllable, with both having stress on the third of four syllables. They roll off your tongue very similarly. The double-d in Gadianton is a red-herring and the fact that Giddianhi is also very similar to Catilina only strengthens my point because now we have two robbers that sound very much like Catilina.

No, I think I see your point. I understand the phonetic similarities. I just don't think they are that significant. You didn't address my reservations about the strong dissimilarities about the second two syllables (which comprises half the name). Nor did you address the "ianton" ending in other BofM names. And I think it is significant that even though G and C are similar sounds, they aren't the same sound or letter. Same with t and d. And the double "d" in Gad(d)ianton isn't a red herring. It simply offers a plausible Hebrew origin for the name. If "ianton" is a type of Nephite naming suffix, then Gadd or Gidd could somehow stem from the Hebrew root word for robber. I'm not saying that is certainly the case, but it isn't implausible. 

And, finally, Giddianhi just isn't very similar to Catilina

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14 hours ago, JarMan said:

As strong as these similarities are, they are only Part 1 and I believe Part 2 offers an even stronger match. 

I haven't gotten into Part 2. I'll just have to take your word for them being a "stronger match." 

14 hours ago, JarMan said:

If you believe in the traditional explanation of the Book of Mormon try taking these similarities and turning them around. Pretend we found a lost codex with this story from somewhere in meso-America (or the Heartland, if that's your thing) dating to within just a few years of the story. This would easily overwhelm all other evidence for the Book of Mormon's historicity. NHM (the best evidence there is, imo) pales in comparison.

Actually, that is the first thing I tried to do for the sake of objectivity, flip around the argument to favor my assumptions and see if it would hold up. And, honestly, it still just felt flimsy. I would categorize it as a weak to mid-level series of parallels at best. Too many of them involve general similarities that break down significantly when you get into specifics.  

If we did have reliable records of this sort from BC in Mesoamerica, and if they contained such a story, I would definitely not use it as an argument similar to yours. I would probably just use it in a general way, showing that some general types of things mentioned in the Book of Mormon happened in the surrounding culture: conspiracies, assassination plots, executions, attempts to flee, subsequent military conflicts, and general parallels in events and contexts. Perhaps it could be speculated that the ancient account was a garbled version of the Book of Mormon narrative, but that would be a very tenuous proposal, imo. 

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13 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

There are more than "some" differences in the stories. There are a ton of differences. Basically all of the similarities are at the general or thematic level. As soon as you get very granular everything starts to look very different. 

What I'm arguing for is literary dependency. I'm not making the argument that the Book of Mormon is a re-write of the story, like a screenplay based on a book. The sort of similarities you seem to expect are the type we would expect in a re-write. This is a straw man approach to my argument. There are essentially two different options here. Either 1) the Book of Mormon author was aware of Roman history and worked some of it into his book, or 2) the similarities are all purely coincidental.

11 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Nope. I read that. But there is no mention of some clandestine coup or plot. It only says "he was about to flatter away those people to rise up in rebellion against their brethren." It only gives the impression that he was trying to rally the people to his cause. 

But Paanchi was already dead before we hear anything about his followers and their plot. He can't be linked to their conspiracy, at least not based on the details Mormon gives us. The parallel has to be invented by conjecture only. 

Again, I don't see any mention of Paanchi in those verses. He was already dead for inciting rebellion. It seems, rather, that Kishkumen is the one directing things at this point. He is the leader. Paanchi is already old news and the narrative is going in a new direction with a new antagonists. 

Well, yes, but again Paanchi was never part of it, that we know. And Gadianton was never part of the first assassination attempt that we know. It is inference for both characters. Which is my point. You have to read their involvement into the text, without any strong reasons to do so other than the fact that there is a controversial conspiracy theory from the Roman period that seems like a better fit if they are both involved where the text is silent on the matter. 

Again I think you are arguing against a straw man. Paanchi was planning a coup. You added the word clandestine to his actions, not me. When he was put to death his followers planned a follow up clandestine assassination that was successful. The 1st Catilinarian Conspiracy is similar because there were also two left out of power when the new consuls were chosen. One of them, Sulla, fell in line like Pacumeni. One of Cicero's many surviving orations is his Pro Sulla in which he defends Sulla against charges that he was involved in both conspiracies. Sulla was acquitted. The other aggrieved person, Autronius, begged Cicero to defend him but Cicero refused believing Autronius was guilty of being involved in both conspiracies. Autronius was convicted and exiled. So the Pacumeni/Sulla connection is pretty simple. They both lost out on power but decided not to rebel. Paanchi's and Autronius' are similar characters but there trajectories are a little different. Paanchi was immediately tried and executed. But Mormon is an idealist and he's essentially telling us how he should have been dealt with here. Autronius, on the other hand, became involved in the second conspiracy and wasn't convicted until after it had played out. So with Paanchi dead, Mormon had to create the connection to the second conspiracy a different way. He has Paanchi's followers carry out the first assassination of the chief judge on the judgment seat (the very thing Autronius was allegedly planning). Unlike Autronius, though, Kishkumen is successful. This serves to dramatize the situation and heighten the danger. Mormon is giving us an independent morality tale based on the Roman version. He's free to add drama and tension as he sees fit for his rhetorical purposes. Remember, he's not re-writing the story. He's creating his own story with heavy borrowing.

So in chapter two he brings back the secret group that had killed Pahoran. He couldn't bring back Paanchi, of course, because he was dead: a victim of Mormon's idealism. So the secret group of Paanchi (including Kishkumen) act as his stand-in for the second plot, where in the Roman version Autronius didn't need a stand in. He was still around. And then in these second plots, both of which occur two years after the first, we learn that this time Catiline/Gadianton is heading it up.

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12 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I'm not sure I follow your logic. The Book of Mormon's use of the word seems perfectly suitable. Gadianton's group acted as a subversive band who opposed the current government order and was involved in fomenting internal dissent. It also says that he was "exceedingly expert in many words, and also in his craft, to carry on the secret work of murder and of robbery; therefore he became the leader of the band of Kishkumen" (Helaman 10:4). He apparently wasn't just a disgruntled politician seeking for power. He and his band of followers engaged in actual acts of robbery as well as secret murder in addition to their efforts to overthrow the government. He may very well have started out as an inside political influencer of some sort, but he clearly became an outsider throughout the course of events. Mormon, writing about him many years after the fact, had both practical and metaphorical reasons to refer to Gadianton as a "robber." IMO, he and his followers fit the bill pretty well I think from a society that inherited an ANE legal perspective:

In essence, I think you are being way too narrow in what could and couldn't possibly make sense in an English translation of ancient American text about a society that has a legal and literary heritage from the ANE. IMO, robbers seems like a very fitting English word for Gadianton and his followers, especially if the text uses the word systematically in a way that correlates with an ancient word of a similar connotation.

This should offer a helpful comparative study that further explores the complicated nuances of the issue:

https://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/gjicl/vol1/iss1/8/ 

And here is a very informative book on the topic that you should probably look into if you haven't already (I only perused it, but it looked helpful):

Bandits in the Roman Empire: Myth and Reality

The point is that the Gadianton Robbers are not "robbers" per se. They did do their share of looting, of course, but this is not their defining characteristic. If you read Churchill's 6 volume set recounting the second world war, you'll notice that he never refers to Hitler or the Nazis as robbers. They did do quite a bit of plundering of many precious treasures as they swept through Europe, of course, but since the murder, mayhem, and military might were so much more terrible he uses all kinds of negative terms related to those things. It would make no sense at all to describe the Third Reich as Hitler's Robbers. In the same way it makes no sense to describe the Book of Mormon Gadiantons as "robbers." The conspiracy leaders were partisans denied political power but looking to snatch it through assassinations and war. Then they become an army of hillsmen powerful enough to defeat the entire Nephite nation, who had to depend on the Lamanites for help. They destroy cities, capture slaves, and kill indiscriminately. Mormon even implicates them in the genocidal destruction of his own people. The word "robber" as a primary label is out of place in the Book of Mormon for such a group of people. And the two types of robbers (pre-Helaman 11 conspirators and post-Helaman 11 guerrillas) are distinctly different. It doesn't even make sense to call them the same thing. However, latro is a perfect word for both types. We know the word is perfect because it was specifically applied to the conspirator-type (Catiline) and to the guerrilla type (Tacfarinas). There is no single-word English equivalent. The word "robber" as a label or description of the Gadiantons is best explained as a translation of latro.

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12 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Fair point. I guess what I meant was more that the text doesn't say specifically that Gadianton promised his followers specific types of weath. Their general aim was to "to murder, and to rob, and to gain power" but their specific plot to assassinate the chief judge isn't tied to specific monetary or material rewards. The promise of wealth is only couched as a vague agenda of the group. This, I believe, is in contrast to the specific promises of material wealth that were given to those involved in the Catilinian conspiracy.

But perhaps I'm wrong about that. I'm not too familiar with all the details of Roman episode yet. But, overall, I think the parallel is a valid one, but also a very general one. Promising co-conspirators wealth and power is hardly a novel idea.  

I don't think Catiline made specific promises of wealth, but even if he did, we have to keep in mind that the Roman story is much longer than the one in the Book of Mormon so there is necessarily more detail. One of the things that makes this idea a strong correspondence is the Roman proscriptions that Catiline promised his supporters to bring back. In Helaman 6:38 we see what looks like the proscriptions that occurred under Marius, Sulla and others where a large part of the general populace takes part in the murder and plunder. This is just not normal, even for some of the most brutal societies that we know of.

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14 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I actually thought this was one of the biggest stretches. The Book of Mormon's version is so "simplified" that it is essentially non-similar to the other story. There is no discussion about the extra-legality or morality of slaying Kishkumen. We have no idea what the specific circumstances were. And therefore what ends up being an important legal issue in the story of Catiline ends up being ... well, a non-issue in the Book of Mormon. Assuming that this disparity exists because "the Roman controversy is so complicated" just doesn't cut it for me. The Book of Mormon has numerous legal cases that all have complex legal implications. If someone were just making up this story in the Book of Mormon and basing it on the Catilinian conspiracy, there are all sorts of ways the author could have tailored it more closely to the Roman narrative, without having to get into the nitty gritty of every detail of Roman law--for instance, having more conspirators getting caught, having some body of the Nephite government (e.g. lower judges) deliberate about the legality of their execution and make a decision without the chief judged, and then finally having them executed on the spot (like Zemnarihah), followed by a controversy about the execution. 

Instead, Kishkumen is alone. He doesn't get "caught" and brought before leaders; he just gets killed. He gets killed by the informant and not by the chief judge (more analogous to Cicero). And specific details about his slaying (the informant's mindset and motivation, the precise location, and any details about avoidability or exigencies) are so few that there is really nothing much to say about the legality of it. The only detail we get is that Helaman wanted to catch the other conspirators "that they might be executed according to the law" (Helaman 2:10). And this details makes it seem like whatever was going to happen to the conspirators was going to be "according to the law" and not antithetical to it. And because Helaman is a favored protagonist, readers are invited to see his willingness to comply with the law as being accurate. So it was the chief judged (analogous to Cicero) who apparently wants to do things "by the book," in contrast to Cicero, who acted extra-legally. There is no lasting political controversy or fallout about the slaying of Kishkumen. 

We are left only with a general correspondence about a foiled assassination plot. 

Keep in mind that 1) the Book of Mormon is not a re-write, it is its own story. It borrows heavily but it is an independent story; and 2) The Book of Mormon events occur in a fraction of the words used to describe Catiline's Conspiracy. The issue here is subtle, I admit. But just because it's not in your face doesn't mean it's not important. In fact, this is typical of the Tacitean style. Tacitus was known for using very few words to describe things in his histories. It's a much different style than Sallust uses for his monographs. Here's an interesting brief observation that describes both the early modern and Roman style of composing history. You can't miss the similarities to the Book of Mormon.

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In imitation of the classics, early modern writers of narrative history divided their works into books, followed a chronological order, and incerted their texts with invented speeches. The topics they dealt with were ‘political’: the affaires of kings and queens; the doings of popes, emperors, and independent city-states; revolts and wars, negotiations and battles.

 

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

No, I think I see your point. I understand the phonetic similarities. I just don't think they are that significant. You didn't address my reservations about the strong dissimilarities about the second two syllables (which comprises half the name). Nor did you address the "ianton" ending in other BofM names. And I think it is significant that even though G and C are similar sounds, they aren't the same sound or letter. Same with t and d. And the double "d" in Gad(d)ianton isn't a red herring. It simply offers a plausible Hebrew origin for the name. If "ianton" is a type of Nephite naming suffix, then Gadd or Gidd could somehow stem from the Hebrew root word for robber. I'm not saying that is certainly the case, but it isn't implausible. 

And, finally, Giddianhi just isn't very similar to Catilina

I think different languages have different name endings. Gadianton needed a Nephite name, not a Latin one. Even going from Latin to English changes the last two syllables from LEE-na to the single syllable LINE.

13 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I haven't gotten into Part 2. I'll just have to take your word for them being a "stronger match." 

Well, I'll give a preview for those that don't want to watch the half hour video. The new type of robber that appear at the end of Helaman 11 and which we see in the first 6 chapters of 3 Nephi is modeled after a north African tribesman named Tacfarinas and his army as described by Tacitus in his Annales. They use guerrilla tactics and retreat into the mountains and deserts where they have strongholds the Romans can't dislodge them from. The Romans can beat them in a conventional battle if they can coax them into one. Tacfarinas and his armies try to lay siege to the Romans, but the Romans counter this by coming out of their cities to fight them. We see the same tactics with the Gadianton Robbers vs the Nephites. After years of skirmishes, Tacfarinas wages a full out seven-year war against the Romans between 17 AD-24 AD. This corresponds to the seven year conflict in 3 Nephi that also occurs (depending on how you look at the dates) somewhere very close to 17 AD-24 AD.

During this war we see several similarities. Tacfarinas sends emissaries to Rome requesting land for peace and threatening endless war if refused. Tacfarinas believes he is fighting a war of liberation. Giddianhi sends a letter to Zarahemla right along these same lines. Chief Judge Lachoneus and Emperor Tiberius have similar indignant reactions to these attempts at diplomacy. Final victory comes when the Romans receive intelligence about Tacfarinas' location. They march at night and surround Tacfarinas so that when morning comes the Romans attack and decisively defeat their surprised adversaries. The Nephites also get information about the Gadianton Robber location and use a night march and morning surprise attack to defeat them.

The European, republican, farmer Romans have to ally with the African Mauretanian kingdom in order to achieve victory. The white, republican, farmer Nephites have to ally with the dark-skinned Lamanite Kingdom in order to win. Tacfarinas' armies include Mauretanians and Roman defectors just as the Giddianhi's contain both Nephite and Lamanite dissenters. The Lamanites who assisted the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites and called Nephites. The Mauretanian King was rewarded by the senate and honorably referred to as ally and friend of the Roman people. These and other similarities are the subject of Part 2.

Edited by JarMan
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10 hours ago, JarMan said:

What I'm arguing for is literary dependency. I'm not making the argument that the Book of Mormon is a re-write of the story, like a screenplay based on a book. The sort of similarities you seem to expect are the type we would expect in a re-write. This is a straw man approach to my argument. There are essentially two different options here. Either 1) the Book of Mormon author was aware of Roman history and worked some of it into his book, or 2) the similarities are all purely coincidental.

I never said I expected a precise "rewrite" of the Book of Mormon narrative. But the types of similarities and differences involved in a comparative study matters when trying to make a solid case for literary dependence. If all one can do is string together a bunch of general parallels (the types of things that are fairly typical or expected, given the context) then that is a problem. In my estimation, every one of your parallels that I have looked at more carefully is questionable on its own terms. Which means that stringing them together can easily give them an illusion of being a strong cluster of similarities. 

As a case in point, see my bolded comments interjected into your commentary:

Quote

Again I think you are arguing against a straw man. Paanchi was planning a coup. You added the word clandestine to his actions, not me. [But you are trying to link Paanchi with the first Catlinarian conspiracy by identifying his Roman counterpart as Autronius, who in Sullist's version secretly conspired with Cataline to assassinate the consuls and senators. Paanchi wasn't reported as having been involved in such a plot in the Book of Mormon.] When he was put to death his followers planned a follow up clandestine assassination that was successful. [None of the men allegedly involved in the 1st Catilinarian Conspiracy were put to death after a trial, so again an important dissimilarity when trying to link Paanchi to one of these men.] The 1st Catilinarian Conspiracy is similar because there were also two left out of power when the new consuls were chosen. [Not that big of a deal. The fact that the consulship is a dual office and that voting for it comes up every year means that lots and lots and lots of Roman politicians will try and fail to be chosen as consul. Also, the men and position of power are very different. One group is comprised of three brothers seeking for one life-tenured judgement seat after the death of their father. The other situation involves more men, none of whom are related, who seek two positions of power which come up for reelection every year. Lots of important differences here. And it seems like a situation that is ripe for a false positive.] One of them, Sulla, fell in line like Pacumeni. [Except in the Roman drama, there are some who accuse Sulla of being part of the conspiracy, so in the narrative there is actually debate about whether or not he did fall in line. We find no such debate about Pacumeni. Also, Pacumeni dies soon after he as appointed as chief judge. Sulla is never appointed as consul and he isn't killed by the leader of invading enemy army. To me, those are very important differences.] One of Cicero's many surviving orations is his Pro Sulla in which he defends Sulla against charges that he was involved in both conspiracies. Sulla was acquitted. [Pacumeni is never accused of anything, never defended by a chief judge, and therefore never acquitted of anything.] The other aggrieved person, Autronius, begged Cicero to defend him but Cicero refused believing Autronius was guilty of being involved in both conspiracies. [Nothing like this plays out in relation to Paanchi. He never pleads with a Cicero figure, nor is he implicated in one, much less two, of the types of conspiracies that Autronus was accused of being involved in.] Autronius was convicted and exiled. So the Pacumeni/Sulla connection is pretty simple. They both lost out on power but decided not to rebel. [Yes, "simple" is the right word. And very generic because lots of Roman politicians would lose power and decide not to rebel. The opportunity for this type of squabble came up every year.] Paanchi's and Autronius' are similar characters but there trajectories are a little different. [Their trajectories are substantially different.] Paanchi was immediately tried and executed. [But he wasn't tried for attempting an assassination plot or for ambitus. Another important difference.] But Mormon is an idealist and he's essentially telling us how he should have been dealt with here. [This is where the parallel really breaks down. You have to mind-read Mormon and basically invent plausible reasons to help compensate for important deficiencies in the proposed relationships between characters.] Autronius, on the other hand, became involved in the second conspiracy and wasn't convicted until after it had played out. So with Paanchi dead, Mormon had to create the connection to the second conspiracy a different way. [Again, an inventive effort to compensate for important dissimilarities.] He has Paanchi's followers carry out the first assassination of the chief judge on the judgment seat (the very thing Autronius was allegedly planning [but not a thing that Paanchi is said to have been planning in the Book of Mormon]). Unlike Autronius, though, Kishkumen is successful. [And who precisely is Kishkumen supposed to correspond to in this part of the parallel. He doesn't make sense until the next conspiracy, and even then he doesn't correspond to any specific character.] This serves to dramatize the situation and heighten the danger. Mormon is giving us an independent morality tale based on the Roman version. He's free to add drama and tension as he sees fit for his rhetorical purposes. Remember, he's not re-writing the story. He's creating his own story with heavy borrowing. [I don't see any "heavy borrowing."]

In the end we are only left with the vague set of generic and disjointed similarities. Again, I'm not saying that everything has to be a perfect rewrite. That is a strawman of my own argument. But you simply can't build a solid argument for derivation on these types of loose relationships. The dissimilarities don't involve just random details in the stories. They pertain to the very characters and events that you are trying to demonstrate are sufficiently similar to warrant the conclusion of their being derived. Imo, you would need more unique, fully accurate, and tightly connected parallels to make a strong case. 

Unfortunately, I don't have time to go through this further. But it has been a very interesting discussion. I'll have to let you have the last word. And thanks for your patience and cordial tone throughout, and for sending me additional documents for critique. They were very helpful.  

 

 

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Posted (edited)

One of the games that has been going on forever between apologists and critics is each accusing the other of parallelomania. (I'm not saying you've done that, though, Ryan.) There really should be some general standards by which parallels could be judged. I will give some suggestions for just some standards later. But I wanted to point that you've concentrated some of your critique on differences between the two stories. I don't think that is an effective way to judge whether or not there is literary borrowing going on. For example, Wikipedia lists 410 feature-length film and tv versions of Shakespeare plays. As I scanned the listing I noticed a handful of movies I've seen. Some of them are pretty subtle such as Lion King/Hamlet while others are more obvious like West Side Story/Romeo and Juliet. What's striking, though, is the number of differences between the original plays and the adaptations. You simply can't say anything about whether borrowing is taking place by identifying the differences. Differences seem to occur because of different milieus--there's no way to do a modern American version of Romeo and Juliet, for example--without having some serious differences. Other differences seem to be creative differences. You don't need to be a mind reader to see that issues of race and class in West Side Story have been creatively added to address contemporary concerns. Both of these things are going on to some degree with the Book of Mormon/Roman history stories, but it's exactly what we would expect (even though I don't think we are talking about an "adaptation" per se). Other differences you've identified occur because the Book of Mormon account is a very compact version of a lengthy monograph. Mormon had to leave many things out. The real test can be applied by looking at the similarities. As mentioned before, I'll propose some general standards for doing this.

CLUSTERING - This is something I haven't heard either apologists or critics talk much about. What I mean by clustering is how well different proposed parallels fit together with each other, both in the proposed source text and in the Book of Mormon. If I were to point out that some of the fortifications built by the Nephites are almost identical to some of the fortifications described by Caesar in his histories (which is true, by the way), and if I also pointed out that the journey of the Mulekites resembles events from the Aeneid (also true), I would have two data points that don't cluster very well. This is because the fortifications and the Mulekite stories are not directly related and because Julius Caesar's histories and the Aeneid are only partially related (both being Roman works written a few decades apart). Also, two points (the bare minimum for showing clustering) isn't that significant. This doesn't mean the parallels aren't real (I think they are). It just means I can build a better case if I can find multiple, clustered points. The more points there are and the more tightly clustered they are, the better my case. The Catiline/Gadianton parallels are very tightly clustered. We have a single series of events in Roman history that corresponds with a single series of events in Helaman 1 and 2. There are somewhere around 20 parallels in those two chapters alone. Compare this to the paper recently published by the Dales in Interpreter. They list dozens of parallels but there is zero clustering.

SPECIFICITY - I'll pick on the Dales again here to start by picking one of the parallels they determined to be the most specific.

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Defensive earthworks with deep ditches, breastworks and palisades

Coe’s standard: “Becan … was completely surrounded by massive defensive earthworks sometime between the second and fourth centuries AD. These consist of a ditch and inner rampart, 38 ft (11.6 m) high, and would have been formidable, according to David Webster, if the rampart had been surmounted by a palisade” (p. 122). “Warfare had in fact become a real problem to all the major Petexbatun sites, and a system of defensive walls … topped by wooden palisades was constructed around and within them” (p. 151).

Book of Mormon correspondence: See Alma 49:4, 18‒22; Alma 50:1‒5; Alma 53:4.

Analysis of correspondence: The correspondence is specific, it matches perfectly in the details, and it is highly unusual. What military example had Joseph Smith ever heard of or seen that was anything like this defensive arrangement? According to David Webster, the Conquistador Hernan Cortes marveled when he saw the Maya towns defended in exactly this fashion (details below). We would like to give this correspondence a weighting of a million to one against the likelihood that Joseph Smith guessed it, but our data weighting approach does not permit a likelihood of 0.000001; instead it is

Likelihood = 0.02

Now compare that to a snippet from Julius Caesar:

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He commanded the camp to be fortified with a twelve-foot rampart, a breastwork to be built on in proportion to the height of the same, a double trench fifteen feet wide in each case to be dug with perpendicular sides, turrets three stories high to be set up at frequent intervals and connected by covered cross-bridges, having their front faces protected by a breastwork of wattles. His object was to hold the camp against the enemy by the double ditch and a double band of defenders: one rank, posted on the bridges, from the greater safety afforded by height, could hurl its missiles with greater range and confidence; the other, posted on the actual rampart nearer the enemy, would be covered by the bridge from the showers of missiles. At the gateways he set doors and higher turrets.

From Alma 48:18-21:

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18 Now behold, the Lamanites could not get into their forts of security by any other way save by the entrance, because of the highness of the bank which had been thrown up, and the depth of the ditch which had been dug round about, save it were by the entrance.

19 And thus were the Nephites prepared to destroy all such as should attempt to climb up to enter the fort by any other way, by casting over stones and arrows at them.

20 Thus they were prepared, yea, a body of their strongest men, with their swords and their slings, to smite down all who should attempt to come into their place of security by the place of entrance; and thus were they prepared to defend themselves against the Lamanites.

21 And it came to pass that the captains of the Lamanites brought up their armies before the place of entrance, and began to contend with the Nephites, to get into their place of security; but behold, they were driven back from time to time, insomuch that they were slain with an immense slaughter.

From Alma 50:1-5.

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1 And now it came to pass that Moroni did not stop making preparations for war, or to defend his people against the Lamanites; for he caused that his armies should commence in the commencement of the twentieth year of the reign of the judges, that they should commence in digging up heaps of earth round about all the cities, throughout all the land which was possessed by the Nephites.

2 And upon the top of these ridges of earth he caused that there should be timbers, yea, works of timbers built up to the height of a man, round about the cities.

3 And he caused that upon those works of timbers there should be a frame of pickets built upon the timbers round about; and they were strong and high.

4 And he caused towers to be erected that overlooked those works of pickets, and he caused places of security to be built upon those towers, that the stones and the arrows of the Lamanites could not hurt them.

5 And they were prepared that they could cast stones from the top thereof, according to their pleasure and their strength, and slay him who should attempt to approach near the walls of the city.

The Dales believe their correspondence is specific and matches perfectly. But the excerpt from Julius Caesar is even more specific as it correctly describes several details as follows:

1) deep trenches, 2) ramparts, 3) wooden breastwork on top of the ramparts, 4) towers (turrets) overlooking the walls, 5) towers protected from projectiles with wattles, 6) ability to cast missiles from towers, 7) gates, 8 ) gates given extra protection 9) gates are the focus of the enemy's attacks (Caesar elsewhere describes attacks on their fortifications that target the gates).

If the Dales' correspondence is one in a million, then the correspondence to Caesar is, what, one in a billion?

Edited by JarMan
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14 hours ago, JarMan said:

One of the games that has been going on forever between apologists and critics is each accusing the other of parallelomania. (I'm not saying you've done that, though, Ryan.) There really should be some general standards by which parallels could be judged. I will give some suggestions for just some standards later. But I wanted to point that you've concentrated some of your critique on differences between the two stories. I don't think that is an effective way to judge whether or not there is literary borrowing going on. For example, Wikipedia lists 410 feature-length film and tv versions of Shakespeare plays. As I scanned the listing I noticed a handful of movies I've seen. Some of them are pretty subtle such as Lion King/Hamlet while others are more obvious like West Side Story/Romeo and Juliet. What's striking, though, is the number of differences between the original plays and the adaptations. You simply can't say anything about whether borrowing is taking place by identifying the differences. Differences seem to occur because of different milieus--there's no way to do a modern American version of Romeo and Juliet, for example--without having some serious differences. Other differences seem to be creative differences. You don't need to be a mind reader to see that issues of race and class in West Side Story have been creatively added to address contemporary concerns. Both of these things are going on to some degree with the Book of Mormon/Roman history stories, but it's exactly what we would expect (even though I don't think we are talking about an "adaptation" per se). Other differences you've identified occur because the Book of Mormon account is a very compact version of a lengthy monograph. Mormon had to leave many things out. The real test can be applied by looking at the similarities. As mentioned before, I'll propose some general standards for doing this.

I think that differences are often important though, especially when parallels are at a general level.

Let's switch roles for a minute to demonstrate my point. Here is a list of additional parallels that involve the assassination attempts on Caligula (adapted from the chart you used):

Catiline’s War

Book of Mormon

Caligula

Catilina

Gad(d)ianton

Gaeticulus / Gadianton

Cassi-us / Gad(d)i-anton

Contemporaries referred to Catiline and his followers as latrones

Mormon refers to Gadianton and his followers as “robbers”

Caligula referred to followers of the bandit Tetrinius as Tetriniuses, similar to how Gadianton’s name became almost synonymous with the robbers who followed him.

Archetype of Roman society’s ills leading to violence and breakdown of Republican government

Archetype of Nephite society’s ills leading to violence and breakdown of Republican government

Story is used by Josephus as a moral lesson about the consequences of the breakdown of the Republican government.

First Catilinarian Conspiracy

Helaman 1

 

Began in 66 BC

Began in about 52 BC

Near the turn of the century. Occurred relatively soon after a major change in government.

Formed by Autronius, who had been prevented from becoming consul

Formed by Paanchi, who had been prevented from becoming chief judge

Allegedly formed by Lepidus and Gaetulicus. Lepidus’s father was marked by Caligula to succeed him as emperor.

Desired to set himself (and others) over the government

Desired to make himself chief judge

Motivations uncertain.

Plan was unsuccessful

Plan was unsuccessful

First and second assassination attempts were unsuccessful. The third attempt was successful.

Plan was to kill new consuls on the Capitol or senators at the senate house

Conspirators ended up killing new chief judge on the judgement seat

Caligula is eventually killed at the palace.

Historical sources are mixed on whether Catiline was involved

Book of Mormon is unclear on whether Gadianton was involved

Historical sources are uncertain if the alleged first conspiracy is accurate and if the alleged conspirators were involved.

Second Catilinarian Conspiracy

Helaman 2, 11

 

Began two years after the first conspiracy

Began two years after the first conspiracy

The third conspiracy began two years after the first conspiracy

Desired to murder others to obtain their wealth

Desired to murder others to obtain their wealth

Cassius murdered others besides Caligula. Some involved surely were bound to benefit in various ways.

Catiline promised “magistries and priesthoods” to his followers in exchange for support

Gadianton promised “power and authority” to his followers in exchange for support

Cassius recruited a number of men to join the conspiracy. One of the three main conspirators (Lucius Annius Vinicianus) was “considered as a possible successor to Caligula.”

 

Attempted to murder consul

Attempted to murder chief judge

Attempted to murder emperor.

Assassination attempt thwarted by informant in the conspiracy

Assassination attempt thwarted by spy inside conspiracy

First and Second assassination attempts thwarted. The father of one of the conspirators (Betiliniius Capito) claimed to be involved and gave out names of others who were involved. Several of them were killed.

Catiline soon fled the city with other conspiracy members after failed assassination attempt

Gadianton soon fled the city with other conspiracy members after failed assassination attempt

Claudius, Caligula’s uncle, soon fled the city after the assassination.

Co-conspirators killed (arguably) extralegally, but this action is presented as morally justifiable

Co-conspirator killed (arguably) extralegally, but this action is presented as morally justifiable

Cassius, the ring leader of the conspirators (like Kishkumen), is killed by Claudius.

Later, Claudius faces assassination attempts on his own life. In one instance he executes a man without giving him a trial. From Wikipedia: "Valerius Asiaticus was executed without public trial for unknown reasons. The ancient sources say the charge was adultery, and that Claudius was tricked into issuing the punishment. However, Claudius singles out Asiaticus for special damnation in his speech on the Gauls, which dates over a year later, suggesting that the charge must have been much more serious. Asiaticus had been a claimant to the throne in the chaos following Caligula's death and a co-consul with the Titus Statilius Taurus Corvinus mentioned above. 

Rumored to have used secret oaths to bind the conspiracy

Used secret oaths to bind the conspiracy

 

Waged civil war against Rome

Waged civil war against the Nephites

 

Entire army killed in final battle

Became “extinct” as a result of final Nephite actions

 

Can we convincingly argue that the story about Caligula is itself dependent on the story of Catiline? I think clearly not. They are separate historical events based on historical details and not mere literary creation (even though the Roman accounts of conspiracies may constitute a type of historiographical genre that tends towards certain conventions and details being reported). And yet almost every detail you mention has some sort of correspondence in the account of Caligula. And I'm sure there are other parallels that could be mustered if I had the time and interest to look for them. 

I'm guessing, however, that you would try to show how the details in my additional list about Caligula have differences that make them weaker. But then I could argue that differences don't really matter that much. It is really only the similarities that matter. Even though some things are jumbled around a bit (just like the details of the Catalinarian conspiracy) they are all essentially more or less there:

  • similarity in names (except the Caligula story has two possible name correspondences, arguably making it more likely to be derivative)
  • the same approximate time period (all events are less than 100 years apart)
  • the important moral significance of the historical event
  • a group of conspirators plot an assassination
  • multiple assassination attempts on the most prominent leader in the society
  • a thwarted assassination attempt
  • an informant that helps root out further conspiracy
  • an execution without trial
  • a two-year gap between a failed assassination attempt and a successful one
  • the successful assassination is at a location that symbolizes the ruler's power
  • a hasty flight of an individual after the assassination
  • the execution of the ring leader of the conspiracy

You might argue that some of the parallels with Catiline are better, and they are. But I could argue that some of the parallels with Caligula are better.

For instance, the Caligula assassination involves a single ruler (not a dual consulship) who rules for life and whose position is essentially hereditary. This is much closer to the position of chief judge in the Book of Mormon, and quite different from the dual office of consul that came up for election every year.  In a different example, you could argue that Cassius isn't as close as Catiline to the name Gad(d)ianton. But I could argue that the Original Manuscript arguably indicates that the name was supposed to be spelled with a double "d" in the middle. Therefore the two beginning syllables (the only ones that are that similar between Catilina and Gadianton) are arguably better with Cassius and Gaddianton. And so on and so forth. 

The point is that I was able to find a fairly close match to a lot of the parallels. And if differences don't matter, and if I frame the parallels in the right way (so that the comparison emphasizes the similarity while avoiding important differences), then it is pretty easy to come up with such matches. I hardly looked very widely or deeply before I found this one. And the others I looked at contained many of the same types of details: disgruntled politicians or leaders, multiple assassination attempts, failed attempts, insider informants, civil wars that follow, etc. In other words, my brief survey showed me exactly what I expected. Many of the details on your list show up in historical events of this nature. So, as I expected, it is quite easy to get false positives. And then anything that doesn't work can just be chalked up to the artistic literary licence of whoever is narrating the "derivative" story in the Book of Mormon.  

Edited by Ryan Dahle
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14 hours ago, JarMan said:

The Dales believe their correspondence is specific and matches perfectly. But the excerpt from Julius Caesar is even more specific as it correctly describes several details as follows:

1) deep trenches, 2) ramparts, 3) wooden breastwork on top of the ramparts, 4) towers (turrets) overlooking the walls, 5) towers protected from projectiles with wattles, 6) ability to cast missiles from towers, 7) gates, 8 ) gates given extra protection 9) gates are the focus of the enemy's attacks (Caesar elsewhere describes attacks on their fortifications that target the gates).

If the Dales' correspondence is one in a million, then the correspondence to Caesar is, what, one in a billion?

Well, I'm not sure I fully recall the Dales' methodology. But what I can say is that I don't think fortifications alone tells us much of anything. It is a good correspondence that shows that the Book of Mormon could possibly have happened in ancient America (at least when it comes to that feature of the text). And it is probably not an aspect of warfare that 19th century Americans like Joseph Smith would have readily expected from the primitive "savages" (as they viewed them) in the Americas. So it pushes back a little against the argument that Joseph just made up the Book of Mormon. But, in my view, this offers nothing like a 1 in a million or 1 in a billion correspondence. 

I personally think that the narrative parallels with the Moses 5-7 and the extant Enoch literature are much stronger than any other parallels I know of that connect Joseph Smith's revelations with the ancient world. This is because they are all about a very specific topic (the life of the prophet Enoch), and also because they contain a cluster parallels that range from general themes to very specific and in many cases unusual details. So if you want to do a comparison with something I actually think is valid and compelling, that would be a much better option. 

Edited by Ryan Dahle
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You've misrepresented some of your supposed parallels. Most are not specific.

8 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Gaeticulus / Gadianton

Cassi-us / Gad(d)i-anton

Cassius Chaerea is usually referred to as Chaerea, not Cassius. Catilina is still a better match phonetically and rhythmically. Also, it's Gaetulicus, which is also not as strong a match.

8 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Caligula referred to followers of the bandit Tetrinius as Tetriniuses, similar to how Gadianton’s name became almost synonymous with the robbers who followed him.

This has nothing at all to do with the story of Catiline, which is what you are supposed to be comparing it to. And you've completely skirted the issue anyway. The whole point in my comparison is the word latro. Now it's possible that Josephus used the word lestei (the Greek equivalent to latro) to refer to the assassins. I know he used it in other contexts. This would be an appropriate parallel. But it would be one that works in my favor for the exact same reason Cicero's and Tacitus' use works in my favor.

8 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Story is used by Josephus as a moral lesson about the consequences of the breakdown of the Republican government.

Now come on. You can't just make things up out of whole cloth and claim a parallel. The assassination of Caligula, an emperor, had nothing to do with the destruction of republican government. If anything, it was about restoring republican government. And I highly doubt Josephus was moralizing about the assassination of one of the most universally loathed of all Roman Emperors.

8 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Near the turn of the century. Occurred relatively soon after a major change in government.

The time period is reasonably close, but still not as close.

8 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Allegedly formed by Lepidus and Gaetulicus. Lepidus’s father was marked by Caligula to succeed him as emperor.

This is not a parallel at all. What happened with Autronius and Sulla is that they were elected consuls. Then they were convicted of bribery. Another election was held and the two men that prosecuted them were elected. So we have two men with a severe gripe about how the the leaders were chosen, with potential reason to believe they were unfairly excluded from power. One chose to conform the other to rebel. This is a direct parallel to Helaman 1 where 1 brother was selected above the other two brothers. One brother chose to conform, the other to rebel.

8 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Motivations uncertain.

I haven't gone to the primary sources on this story, but Wikipedia indicates there were political or personal reasons for the assassination. Apparently Caligula was derogatory towards Chaerea.

8 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

First and second assassination attempts were unsuccessful. The third attempt was successful.

These were attempts against the same man. In the Catiline conspiracies (and Helaman), there were two different targets.

8 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Caligula is eventually killed at the palace.

Well, under the palace. There's also Caesar's assassination at the senate and Domitian's at the palace, both inflicted by knives. The fact this happened more than once is actually a good parallel to the Book of Mormon where it also happens more than once.

9 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Cassius recruited a number of men to join the conspiracy. One of the three main conspirators (Lucius Annius Vinicianus) was “considered as a possible successor to Caligula.”

This is pretty vague. Notice, not just the conceptual, but also the written similarities between Sallust's and Mormon's account:

Sallust: Then Catiline guaranteed fresh accounts and the proscription of the wealthy; magistracies and priesthoods;

Helaman 2:5: ...he would grant unto those who belonged to his band that they should be placed in power and authority

You don't have to stretch to try and make a connection because it's right there.

9 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Attempted to murder emperor

Yep.

9 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

First and Second assassination attempts thwarted. The father of one of the conspirators (Betiliniius Capito) claimed to be involved and gave out names of others who were involved. Several of them were killed.

But not thwarted by a spy or informant.

9 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Claudius, Caligula’s uncle, soon fled the city after the assassination.

Claudius wasn't one of the conspirators, so this doesn't match. And he was more or less hustled out of the city, rather than taking the initiative.

9 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Cassius, the ring leader of the conspirators (like Kishkumen), is killed by Claudius.

Later, Claudius faces assassination attempts on his own life. In one instance he executes a man without giving him a trial. From Wikipedia: "Valerius Asiaticus was executed without public trial for unknown reasons. The ancient sources say the charge was adultery, and that Claudius was tricked into issuing the punishment. However, Claudius singles out Asiaticus for special damnation in his speech on the Gauls, which dates over a year later, suggesting that the charge must have been much more serious. Asiaticus had been a claimant to the throne in the chaos following Caligula's death and a co-consul with the Titus Statilius Taurus Corvinus mentioned above. 

I don't know where you're going with this. Most emperors killed people indiscriminately. And most Roman historians were critical of this, not sympathetic.

9 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Can we convincingly argue that the story about Caligula is itself dependent on the story of Catiline? I think clearly not. They are separate historical events based on historical details and not mere literary creation (even though the Roman accounts of conspiracies may constitute a type of historiographical genre that tends towards certain conventions and details being reported). And yet almost every detail you mention has some sort of correspondence in the account of Caligula. And I'm sure there are other parallels that could be mustered if I had the time and interest to look for them.

This is just not true, as I showed above. There were a few similarities. But about what we would expect. If anything you've showed the strength of my case by demonstrating just how different the Caligula conspiracies were from those I presented. The Helaman 1 and 2 accounts match Catiline's conspiracies but not those against Caligula.

I don't appreciate the insinuation that I've manipulated the facts of the stories to try and make them look similar. That was your m.o. not mine. I'm confident I've rehearsed the stories correctly, but if someone can show me where I'm wrong, I'll gladly make the correction.

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