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Roman History/Book of Mormon Parallels


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2 hours ago, JarMan said:
7 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

In example after example, I demonstrated that many of the problems in "specificity" in my list of parallels, are actually closely analogous to many of the "differences" that I highlighted in your list of parallels (comparing both lists to the narrative in Helaman 1-2). Yet, for some reason, you never addressed those specific concerns.

I went through your list item by item and found that each one (with the exception of one or two) was less specific than the corresponding item on my list (or just plain untrue). 

The point wasn't strictly to compare each item in isolation. The point was to look at the types of weaknesses in some of my parallels and to see if those same types of weakness weren't also afflicting some of your own parallels (not necessarily the same one in the list). In most cases, when you pointed out a weakness, I would show how some of your own parallels had a commensurate problem. The fact that the similar problem didn't involve the specific set of corresponding parallels in our lists was irrelevant to me. If your approach to the Paanchi/Autronius parallel was just about as bad as my approach on a separate issue, it hardly mattered. The point is that they are both bad for the same types of reasons. 

Edited by Ryan Dahle
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1 hour ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I assure you, I'm not acting "in bad faith." I'm genuinely trying to understand and fairly respond to your views, as I understand them.

Good enough. I'll retract my assertion you acted in bad faith.

1 hour ago, Ryan Dahle said:

You still seem to be missing my main point. I see your list as being something like a 3-4 out of 10 (just choosing an arbitrary rating system). In contrast, I saw my list as being more like a 2 out of 10. So we both agree your parallels were collectively better. That hardly means they are good or compelling though. Put another way, just because one set of parallels isn't quite as bad as another set of parallels doesn't preclude the possibility that you can learn something from assessing similar weaknesses in both lists. 

You seem to think that just because my list as a whole is inferior, and that its weaknesses in several cases are more pronounced, that it can be discarded as irrelevant. I completely disagree. The point was to get you to recognize that even if some of your parallels aren't quite as bad as mine, they still suffer from similar problems to various degrees. I guess I thought that would be obvious and meaningful, but apparently it wasn't, even after I repeatedly highlighted how the problems were analogous to the inconsistencies in your own list.

I think there's a possible, legitimate approach to analyzing the Catiline story similar to the one you used. A baseline would need to be established. So someone could analyze a certain number of stories across cultures and throughout time related to a coup or coup attempt. Each one could be compared to the Helaman stories. We would need to look at the Helaman stories and see what appeared in the other stories and give a score on each item. (We wouldn't do the inverse: look at the coup story and see what appeared in Helaman, because differences largely don't matter.) The best way to score them would probably be on a relative basis, meaning that you rank the different stories on each element in order. Then you add up the total scores and see if the Catiline score is significantly higher than all of the rest of the scores.

There are a few problems with your approach. I'm not trying to be critical, I know you just did this off the cuff with limited time. The first is that you compared the Caligula story against the Catiline story instead of against the Helaman story. If we're going to compare multiple stories then it would make more sense to compare them all to the Helaman stories instead of to each other. But comparing Caligula to Helaman wouldn't have been ideal, either, since Caligula is a story from the same culture as Catiline's and within the same general time period. An author familiar with Catiline could have easily been familiar with Caligula and blended parts from both stories. The other problem I see with your approach is that you are attempting to assign scores without developing a baseline. How can you know what is a relatively strong parallel unless you have other stories to compare it with? All you can do is make a relative comparison with the data points you have. I emphasized the relative strength between our two sets of parallels because those were the only two data sets to compare. A set of, say, five or six stories would give us a much better sense of how strong each parallel to Catiline actually is.

Now, I'm certainly not asking you to do this. Actually, the onus is on me to do it. A good scientist should try to falsify his own claim. I should try to find the best examples I possibly can to compare against Catiline. But I would need to find some examples my potential author wouldn't be familiar with, like stories that have only been known to the west for the last 190 years or so.

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1 hour ago, Ryan Dahle said:

The point wasn't strictly to compare each item in isolation. The point was to look at the types of weaknesses in some of my parallels and to see if those same types of weakness weren't also afflicting some of your own parallels (not necessarily the same one in the list). In most cases, when you pointed out a weakness, I would show how some of your own parallels had a commensurate problem. The fact that the similar problem didn't involve the specific set of corresponding parallels in our lists was irrelevant to me. If your approach to the Paanchi/Autronius parallel was just about as bad as my approach on a separate issue, it hardly mattered. The point is that they are both bad for the same types of reasons. 

Since I'm thinking methodology, I'll give another approach I think could work for looking at different proposed models. Let's say we want to compare the Meso-American, heartland, Malaysian, 19th Century, and early modern models to each other. You could take a certain aspect, like military fortifications, and judge the relative position of each model. So it might look something like this: 1) Early Modern 2) Meso-American 3) Heartland 4) 19th Century 5) Malaysian. I'm not saying that's the right order (except that I'm certain Early Modern is #1 on this list.) Now do this for another 20 or 50 items across the board including various aspects of religion, government, warfare, society, etc. and add up the scores. I'm certain we'll find that Meso-America finishes no higher than third in total score. The top two will easily be Early Modern and 19th Century and I think Early Modern wins by a long shot. I guess the point is that proposed parallels can best be judged relative to other proposed parallels.

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A strange parallel also occur between Roman and Mormon history in 322 AD , the year in which the final separation of Lamanites from Nephites began in earnest. About this time the Latin Romans / Lamanites and Greek Romans/Nephites , also began the bitter struggle to live separate lives, resulting in the Byzantine Greek Empire being established in the Eastern Provinces of the old Empire. In this era the Nephites were driven to the North of their original territory,  leaving the Lamanites to the South.

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23 minutes ago, Jracforr said:

A strange parallel also occur between Roman and Mormon history in 322 AD , the year in which the final separation of Lamanites from Nephites began in earnest. About this time the Latin Romans / Lamanites and Greek Romans/Nephites , also began the bitter struggle to live separate lives, resulting in the Byzantine Greek Empire being established in the Eastern Provinces of the old Empire. In this era the Nephites were driven to the North of their original territory,  leaving the Lamanites to the South.

The Nephites and Lamanites experienced "a great division among the people" in 231, almost a hundred years before your date, per 4 Nephi 1:35. In 322 a war began which the Nephites won. A series of wars followed which the Lamanites won, and the land was divided between the Nephites and Lamanites in 350. At AD 385 the Nephites were extinguished. 

In contrast, in AD 330, Constantine moved the capital to Constantinople in the East. The Empire was not divided until 395, ten years after the destruction of the Nephites, upon the death of Emperor Theodosius I. The Western and Eastern Roman Empires did not war against each other; they were ruled by different emperors but considered themselves heirs to the great Roman legacy, as opposed to the total and complete odium between Nephites and Lamanites. 

This parallel seems to me too broad to be significant. 

 

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It is quite possible that a segment of the Nephite population fled their Central American homeland, and took refuge in the Eastern Island of the Caribbean, creating their version of Rome’s Byzantine Empire. While no  existing documentation  support any such event, it is common knowledge in West Indian history, that two types of Native Indians migrated into the region from Central America, the peaceful Arawaks and their hostile nemesis the war like Caribs, very similar to that described in the Book of Mormon.

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5 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

The Nephites and Lamanites experienced "a great division among the people" in 231, almost a hundred years before your date, per 4 Nephi 1:35. In 322 a war began which the Nephites won. A series of wars followed which the Lamanites won, and the land was divided between the Nephites and Lamanites in 350. At AD 385 the Nephites were extinguished. 

In contrast, in AD 330, Constantine moved the capital to Constantinople in the East. The Empire was not divided until 395, ten years after the destruction of the Nephites, upon the death of Emperor Theodosius I. The Western and Eastern Roman Empires did not war against each other; they were ruled by different emperors but considered themselves heirs to the great Roman legacy, as opposed to the total and complete odium between Nephites and Lamanites. 

This parallel seems to me too broad to be significant. 

 

Mormon 1:6-10. Indicates that the wars which culminated in the Nephite being finally driven from the South, began in 322 AD ,this date complements the year 324 AD when Constantine’s Civil war began, resulting in the division of Rome. This was a long and tedious struggle starting when Mormon was 11years old and ending when he was an old man. The important point is that the call for separate political and cultural homelands occurred at the same time.

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15 hours ago, JarMan said:

There are a few problems with your approach. I'm not trying to be critical, I know you just did this off the cuff with limited time. The first is that you compared the Caligula story against the Catiline story instead of against the Helaman story. If we're going to compare multiple stories then it would make more sense to compare them all to the Helaman stories instead of to each other. 

Now, I'm certainly not asking you to do this. Actually, the onus is on me to do it. A good scientist should try to falsify his own claim. I should try to find the best examples I possibly can to compare against Catiline. But I would need to find some examples my potential author wouldn't be familiar with, like stories that have only been known to the west for the last 190 years or so.

I never meant to compare the Caligula and Catiline stories directly, in absence of the Helaman 1-2 connection. So I think you've misunderstood something. The main connection I was looking at was between Caligula and Helaman, and then comparing that connection to the Catiline/Helaman parallel. So really it was more of a three-way comparison, if anything.

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But comparing Caligula to Helaman wouldn't have been ideal, either, since Caligula is a story from the same culture as Catiline's and within the same general time period. An author familiar with Catiline could have easily been familiar with Caligula and blended parts from both stories.

It's true that an author could have drawn upon more than one story. But as you go down that path it increasingly diminishes the argument for specific derivation because it significantly broadens the targets for possible "hits" or "similarities."

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The other problem I see with your approach is that you are attempting to assign scores without developing a baseline. How can you know what is a relatively strong parallel unless you have other stories to compare it with? All you can do is make a relative comparison with the data points you have. I emphasized the relative strength between our two sets of parallels because those were the only two data sets to compare. A set of, say, five or six stories would give us a much better sense of how strong each parallel to Catiline actually is.

Haven't I been saying all along that this is way more complicated than it may at first seem. It needs more than just a baseline for comparison. It needs a developed set of specific criteria to determine what "counts" as a parallel, what makes a strong parallel vs. a weak parallel, and how do we assess compilations of parallels that have varying degrees of strength. Specificity and Clustering are not specific enough to make a determination on a case by case basis. As they say, the devil is in the details, and there are still a LOT of details that need to be worked out.

Your parallel with Catilina and Gadianton provides a pretty good example to highlight some complexities involved. There are lots of assumptions that need to be unpacked before even looking at the parallel. You seem to assume, for example, that there is a multi-layered transmission and redaction history for the Book of Mormon. So you look at both Latin and EModE and perhaps Joseph Smith and maybe other steps in between. These assumptions remain unproven. Are they really the right assumptions that should be applied to the text? Well that is a complex question on its own, and involves all sorts of different lines of debate.

Also, whether warranted or not, these assumptions give you room to account for differences in the form of the name that may be due to transmission from one language to another. It also gives you lots of steps along the way where someone could have adapted something in the text for their own purposes. All of this means that it is indeed plausible that a name like Catilina and Gadianton could be related. But those same assumptions also mean that the degree of specificity needed for a "good match" are broadened significantly. You keep bringing up lists of names that are known to be related and yet have very different forms. That's fine for an argument for a plausible connection, but it doesn't work nearly as well when making an argument that one name is most likely derived from another. This is because there are now so many options that could possibly be a match. 

You never established what degree of similarity counts for a strong parallel between names. What criteria are there for evaluation? Should we focus just on phonetics? Why not look at visual similarities as well, seeing that in your theory there are multiple stages of assumed transmission where the method of transmission is unknown. What about rhyme? What about an anagramatic connection? Which possible types of connections are more or less important than others? Is phonetic similarity more important than visual similarity? Why? What assumptions are you using to determine that? Moreover, as more types of parallels are allowed into the equation, the less significant any proposed parallel is because the field of possible "hits" keeps getting broader and broader. Is Antongadi stronger or weaker than Catilina? What about a name like Gadian vs. Catilina? And so on and so forth. This also brings up questions about the authors and transmitters of the text. You may think you have a very good explanation for why someone might have adapted a name in a certain way, but then you have a burden to prove that your assumption is warranted enough that it has an actual bearing on improving the strength of the parallel. 

Have you ever done a statistical analysis to determine how many names could possibly function as a parallel that is of a similar strength as "Catilina"? It would probably be good to know just how many viable possible "hits" are out there when trying to determine how much weight should be given to this particular name. But, of course, such statistical analysis is hardly a walk in the park. It takes the time and the know how. Then there are other things as well. Does the name Gadianton fit well in form with Roman names? What about Early Modern names? What about names from other ancient languages? What if we don't have extensive lists of names from languages that might be where the name is actually derived? What about the fact that there are names with a similar ending of Gadianton (Morianton, Corianton, Coriantumr) in the Book of Mormon? Does that to any degree reduce the likelihood that Gadianton is related to Catilina, or does it strengthen the connection, or is the apparent connection with these other names even meaningful at all? How do we decide? I'm sure you can invoke new assumptions to account for those similarities in a way that does no harm to the Catilina connection (or that even improves it), but someone else may account for them in a way that somewhat diminishes the Catilina connection. How we decide which assumptions are better. That then brings this into a subtopic where you would need to assess naming patterns in a wide variety of languages. Do you have sufficient background in that area to say what the evidence means? I know I sure don't. And what about the historical data that we don't have about fluctuations in names. How do we account for large absences of evidence?

Hopefully it has become clear why there are no universal standards for determining the strength of parallels. Each proposed parallel has a unique context and unique sets of assumptions and limitations that are involved in its evaluation. It may be possible that someone could sort of create a very extensive rubric to generally account for many types of parallels (in names, in narrative events, in setting, in characters, etc.), but that becomes difficult pretty quick.

Take parallels in Setting, for example. Think of all the possible ways that there may be a connection in the setting between two stories. There are thousands of possibilities, probably millions. And each one of those aspects of setting has its own characteristics, assumptions, and important contexts. Just like the naming exercise above, think of all the ways you might possibly get a "hit" when setting is involved. Does it matter that both stories take place on "Earth"? Well typically not, unless you are comparing science fiction stories where there are many inhabited planets and earth is just one of them. Is it significant if two stories take place in the mountains rather than in a valley? That may be somewhat significant. What if both stories take place in a cave that was said to have been carved out with the toothpick of a mythical giant. All of a sudden we have transitioned from general settings to something very specific and unique. How much stronger is the latter parallel than the former ones? Most of us would probably think it is very much superior in strength. But how do we determine that? Well, we mostly do it based on our intuitive assessments about the rarity and uniqueness of caves being carved out with the toothpicks of mythical giants. We rarely go out and scour all known textual sources to prove that a given concept is indeed unique. And usually absolute proof about such things is impossible. There are all sorts of gradients along the way, where me make intuitive judgments and leaps of logic based on limited information for comparison.

These seem like pretty big variables to me that can't be overcome with a little rubric chart.There are so many different types of parallels, contexts, and assumptions that are involved in the assessment, that no single set of criteria can account for them all. They are too vast and too varied. 

So I don't think this is some petty little problem where if everyone would just act in good faith we would all get along and reach the same conclusions. Even if you were to compare the Catiline/Gadianton parallel with a 100 different assassination/conspiracy accounts from different times and cultures, and then found out the Catilinarian conspiracies were the best match, it wouldn't by any means prove that the Gadianton story was derived from the Catiline episodes. That is because you would only be assessing the parallels relative strength in relation to one another, and not necessarily in relation to what will persuade most people that derivation is most likely at play. It could very well be that there are simply no  narrative accounts out there that are sufficiently similar to Helaman 1-2 to make a compelling case for derivation. 

Edited by Ryan Dahle
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20 minutes ago, Jracforr said:

Mormon 1:6-10. Indicates that the wars which culminated in the Nephite being finally driven from the South, began in 322 AD ,this date complements the year 324 AD when Constantine’s Civil war began, resulting in the division of Rome. This was a long and tedious struggle starting when Mormon was 11years old and ending when he was an old man. The important point is that the call for separate political and cultural homelands occurred at the same time.

On the contrary, Constantine's Civil War was if anything a war of reunification. Constantine attacked Licinius and, upon defeating him, assumed control of both halves of the Empire, being the first person to control both halves in one person since 286. The division of the Empire into two separate states only occurred in 395 after the death of Theodosius I. 

 

Edited by OGHoosier
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15 hours ago, JarMan said:

Since I'm thinking methodology, I'll give another approach I think could work for looking at different proposed models. Let's say we want to compare the Meso-American, heartland, Malaysian, 19th Century, and early modern models to each other. You could take a certain aspect, like military fortifications, and judge the relative position of each model. So it might look something like this: 1) Early Modern 2) Meso-American 3) Heartland 4) 19th Century 5) Malaysian. I'm not saying that's the right order (except that I'm certain Early Modern is #1 on this list.) Now do this for another 20 or 50 items across the board including various aspects of religion, government, warfare, society, etc. and add up the scores. I'm certain we'll find that Meso-America finishes no higher than third in total score. The top two will easily be Early Modern and 19th Century and I think Early Modern wins by a long shot. I guess the point is that proposed parallels can best be judged relative to other proposed parallels.

This seems like a worthwhile exercise in some respects, but you would also have to account for comparative limitations in data from each region. And how to determine which set of items to choose also involves numerous biases and assumptions. 

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2 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

On the contrary, Constantine's Civil War was if anything a war of reunification. Constantine attacked Licinius and, upon defeating him, assumed control of both halves of the Empire, being the first person to control both halves in one person since 286. The division of the Empire into two separate states only occurred in 395 after the death of Theodosius I. 

 

We are not precisely comparing apples to apples in this Mormon /Roman analysis, because they are two vastly different structures, physically, politically and religiously. However they had ethnic similarities, however limited that might have been, and this would have enabled the parallel history that “ seem” to exist. The fact that Constantine might have tried to unify a fractured Roman World , would be the politically correct course to follow if he wanted to be Emperor of all Rome,  but the fact still remain that it was his hand that facilitated it’s division in 324 AD. A less sophisticated society such as that of the Nephite society, might not have had the political or social institutions  to accomplish that quest for unity, even if the Elite in the society desired it. While both societies differed on the means and mechanism to facilitate change, the fact is the years 322 -324 was a breaking point for both. Additionally , The Book of Mormon only record the extermination of the Nephites living among the Lamanites, it being the equivalent of the extermination of the Greek element among the Romans in the West. We can rest assured however that Nephites who foresaw the approaching calamity, would have done what ever other ethnic group have done in history, and that is to flee their homeland, quite probably creating a Byzantium of their own, among kindred people in the Caribbean or US who previously migrated at the time of Hagoth. 

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14 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

It's true that an author could have drawn upon more than one story. But as you go down that path it increasingly diminishes the argument for specific derivation because it significantly broadens the targets for possible "hits" or "similarities."

This is a line of argument you've used at least three times, but it is just not valid. I've addressed this before, but I'll do it again. My hypothesis is that someone borrowed from Roman history in creating the Book of Mormon. Some of that borrowing is very specific. Some is very general. Showing general similarities can only be additive. You may think it's so general that the additive value is zero. But it can't be subtractive. That is logically inconsistent. If I want to say the Book of Mormon borrowed from the bible and give the Alma/Paul story as an example there are some pretty specific similarities. If, further, I bring up a more general similarity like the exodus vs Lehi's family's journey this would be a more general comparison. But this does nothing to take away from the Alma/Paul similarity. It only strengthens the underlying hypothesis that the Book of Mormon borrowed from the bible. It really slows down the conversation when I have to stop and point out logically inconsistencies in the argument.

14 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Haven't I been saying all along that this is way more complicated than it may at first seem. It needs more than just a baseline for comparison. It needs a developed set of specific criteria to determine what "counts" as a parallel, what makes a strong parallel vs. a weak parallel, and how do we assess compilations of parallels that have varying degrees of strength. Specificity and Clustering are not specific enough to make a determination on a case by case basis. As they say, the devil is in the details, and there are still a LOT of details that need to be worked out.

I mentioned specificity and clustering as two things that need to be considered (among others) because apologists do a very bad job in these areas. One recent example I had in mind was the Dale's paper. With the Meso-American model, specificity is impossible because we don't have any written language. We end up "interpreting" archaeology to find a parallel. Clustering is also very rare to see from the apologist because it just doesn't occur in the record. It should be very telling when we have a competing model that hits clustering and specificity out of the park. Simply waving your hands and saying there's more complexity here doesn't negate the argument. Rather, it looks like obfuscation in order to avoid the argument.

14 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Your parallel with Catilina and Gadianton provides a pretty good example to highlight some complexities involved. There are lots of assumptions that need to be unpacked before even looking at the parallel. You seem to assume, for example, that there is a multi-layered transmission and redaction history for the Book of Mormon. So you look at both Latin and EModE and perhaps Joseph Smith and maybe other steps in between. These assumptions remain unproven. Are they really the right assumptions that should be applied to the text? Well that is a complex question on its own, and involves all sorts of different lines of debate.

It doesn't matter that my model assumes an intervening Latin text. This parallel works without it. This parallel only requires the author to have been able to read Latin. For an early modern model, this fact would almost be a given. Almost anyone able to write the Book of Mormon from that time period would have known Latin.

14 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Also, whether warranted or not, these assumptions give you room to account for differences in the form of the name that may be due to transmission from one language to another. It also gives you lots of steps along the way where someone could have adapted something in the text for their own purposes. All of this means that it is indeed plausible that a name like Catilina and Gadianton could be related. But those same assumptions also mean that the degree of specificity needed for a "good match" are broadened significantly. You keep bringing up lists of names that are known to be related and yet have very different forms. That's fine for an argument for a plausible connection, but it doesn't work nearly as well when making an argument that one name is most likely derived from another. This is because there are now so many options that could possibly be a match. 

You never established what degree of similarity counts for a strong parallel between names. What criteria are there for evaluation? Should we focus just on phonetics? Why not look at visual similarities as well, seeing that in your theory there are multiple stages of assumed transmission where the method of transmission is unknown. What about rhyme? What about an anagramatic connection? Which possible types of connections are more or less important than others? Is phonetic similarity more important than visual similarity? Why? What assumptions are you using to determine that? Moreover, as more types of parallels are allowed into the equation, the less significant any proposed parallel is because the field of possible "hits" keeps getting broader and broader. Is Antongadi stronger or weaker than Catilina? What about a name like Gadian vs. Catilina? And so on and so forth. This also brings up questions about the authors and transmitters of the text. You may think you have a very good explanation for why someone might have adapted a name in a certain way, but then you have a burden to prove that your assumption is warranted enough that it has an actual bearing on improving the strength of the parallel.

Hopefully it has become clear why there are no universal standards for determining the strength of parallels. Each proposed parallel has a unique context and unique sets of assumptions and limitations that are involved in its evaluation. It may be possible that someone could sort of create a very extensive rubric to generally account for many types of parallels (in names, in narrative events, in setting, in characters, etc.), but that becomes difficult pretty quick.

Take parallels in Setting, for example. Think of all the possible ways that there may be a connection in the setting between two stories. There are thousands of possibilities, probably millions. And each one of those aspects of setting has its own characteristics, assumptions, and important contexts. Just like the naming exercise above, think of all the ways you might possibly get a "hit" when setting is involved. Does it matter that both stories take place on "Earth"? Well typically not, unless you are comparing science fiction stories where there are many inhabited planets and earth is just one of them. Is it significant if two stories take place in the mountains rather than in a valley? That may be somewhat significant. What if both stories take place in a cave that was said to have been carved out with the toothpick of a mythical giant. All of a sudden we have transitioned from general settings to something very specific and unique. How much stronger is the latter parallel than the former ones? Most of us would probably think it is very much superior in strength. But how do we determine that? Well, we mostly do it based on our intuitive assessments about the rarity and uniqueness of caves being carved out with the toothpicks of mythical giants. We rarely go out and scour all known textual sources to prove that a given concept is indeed unique. And usually absolute proof about such things is impossible. There are all sorts of gradients along the way, where me make intuitive judgments and leaps of logic based on limited information for comparison.

These seem like pretty big variables to me that can't be overcome with a little rubric chart.There are so many different types of parallels, contexts, and assumptions that are involved in the assessment, that no single set of criteria can account for them all. They are too vast and too varied.

So I don't think this is some petty little problem where if everyone would just act in good faith we would all get along and reach the same conclusions. Even if you were to compare the Catiline/Gadianton parallel with a 100 different assassination/conspiracy accounts from different times and cultures, and then found out the Catilinarian conspiracies were the best match, it wouldn't by any means prove that the Gadianton story was derived from the Catiline episodes. That is because you would only be assessing the parallels relative strength in relation to one another, and not necessarily in relation to what will persuade most people that derivation is most likely at play. It could very well be that there are simply no  narrative accounts out there that are sufficiently similar to Helaman 1-2 to make a compelling case for derivation.

Part of what you've done is to try and isolate each parallel and make a judgment based on it in isolation. This is misleading your conclusions. Gadianton as the name of a Nephite king, for example, wouldn't mean anything. However, Gadianton the robber is meaningful. But it goes much further than that. We have Gadianton the robber, who isn't really a robber, but a politician looking to install himself at the head of government through a coup attempt (unsuccessful) which involves assassinating the current leader. He promises power and authority, binds with secret oaths, etc. This is specificity. Any of these details on its own isn't that meaningful, but together they create a very specific match between Catiline and Gadianton. To prove me wrong on this you only have to show that there is a better match between Gadianton and just one person from history. I'm certain there isn't a better match.

All this appeal to complexity is just more obfuscation. It's not difficult to see the similarities between Gadianton and Catiline. And it's not difficult to test whether the similarities are significant. All you need to do is come up with one single match that's better to show mine is insignificant.

Now, I'm not claiming this is a proof positive test. This is just one piece of evidence. My larger hypothesis includes more Roman history than just the Catiline/Gadianton story. And my even larger hypothesis includes much more than just Roman history. But small pieces (like Gadianton/Catiline) can be tested independently relatively simply to give a decent idea of their significance. 

 

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5 hours ago, JarMan said:
21 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

It's true that an author could have drawn upon more than one story. But as you go down that path it increasingly diminishes the argument for specific derivation because it significantly broadens the targets for possible "hits" or "similarities."

This is a line of argument you've used at least three times, but it is just not valid. I've addressed this before, but I'll do it again. My hypothesis is that someone borrowed from Roman history in creating the Book of Mormon. Some of that borrowing is very specific. Some is very general. Showing general similarities can only be additive. You may think it's so general that the additive value is zero. But it can't be subtractive. That is logically inconsistent. If I want to say the Book of Mormon borrowed from the bible and give the Alma/Paul story as an example there are some pretty specific similarities. If, further, I bring up a more general similarity like the exodus vs Lehi's family's journey this would be a more general comparison. But this does nothing to take away from the Alma/Paul similarity. It only strengthens the underlying hypothesis that the Book of Mormon borrowed from the bible. It really slows down the conversation when I have to stop and point out logically inconsistencies in the argument.

I probably didn't respond as directly or cogently to your prior comment as I should have, so my logic was somewhat off in relation to the point you were trying to make. I sort of went with it in a different direction. But, honestly, you couldn't have picked a more ancillary comment from my post to critique.

Once again, let me clarify my position on this issue:

I keep making the distinction between two types of arguments that can be made: (1) specific derivation and (2) general plausibility. Clusters of parallels that are specific and unique are what is typically needed for a strong case for (1) specific derivation. My argument is NOT that a series of specific parallels is hurt when you add attendant general parallels to them. Rather, my point is that if enough of your allegedly specific parallels turn out instead to be generic parallels, then your case for (1) specific derivation is reduced or destroyed, even though your case for (2) general plausibility remains intact. So, yes, in that sense, when an allegedly specific parallel (like the similarity between the names Catilina and Gadianton) turns out in fact to be rather unremarkable, it hurts your case for (1) specific derivation.

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11 hours ago, JarMan said:
On 8/18/2020 at 10:49 AM, Ryan Dahle said:

Haven't I been saying all along that this is way more complicated than it may at first seem. It needs more than just a baseline for comparison. It needs a developed set of specific criteria to determine what "counts" as a parallel, what makes a strong parallel vs. a weak parallel, and how do we assess compilations of parallels that have varying degrees of strength. Specificity and Clustering are not specific enough to make a determination on a case by case basis. As they say, the devil is in the details, and there are still a LOT of details that need to be worked out.

I mentioned specificity and clustering as two things that need to be considered (among others) because apologists do a very bad job in these areas. One recent example I had in mind was the Dale's paper. With the Meso-American model, specificity is impossible because we don't have any written language. We end up "interpreting" archaeology to find a parallel. Clustering is also very rare to see from the apologist because it just doesn't occur in the record. It should be very telling when we have a competing model that hits clustering and specificity out of the park. Simply waving your hands and saying there's more complexity here doesn't negate the argument. Rather, it looks like obfuscation in order to avoid the argument.

I simply think your degree of specificity doesn't "hit it out of the park" and so all you have left is a cluster of fairly generic parallels, some of them better than others but none of them very strong. Because it is pretty easy to find clusters of generic parallels, your argument for (1) specific derivation falls flat, in my opinion. 

Turning your own argument around, if your only rebuttal is "simply waving your hands" and insisting that there is no real complexity involved, even though I have highlighted numerous specific aspects of that complexity, then it "looks like obfuscation in order to avoid the argument." 

Edited by Ryan Dahle
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11 hours ago, JarMan said:

Part of what you've done is to try and isolate each parallel and make a judgment based on it in isolation. This is misleading your conclusions. Gadianton as the name of a Nephite king, for example, wouldn't mean anything. However, Gadianton the robber is meaningful. But it goes much further than that. We have Gadianton the robber, who isn't really a robber, but a politician looking to install himself at the head of government through a coup attempt (unsuccessful) which involves assassinating the current leader. He promises power and authority, binds with secret oaths, etc. This is specificity. Any of these details on its own isn't that meaningful, but together they create a very specific match between Catiline and Gadianton.

Well, if you want to make an overall assessment of the strength of your list, you have to first evaluate each of the parallels individually. If they aren't that good, then the clustering doesn't matter very much. Simply repeating your list, and avoiding the complicated work of evaluating the strength of your individual parallels doesn't advance your argument. 

For instance, I disagree that Gadianton wasn't really a robber. You have to read that into the text, contrary to what the text itself says. The text presents him as a robber turned prospective politician, not politician turned robber (as Catiline was, but through invective political rhetoric only; he was never a real robber like Gadianton apparently was). 

Lots of people attempt coups.

Lots of conspiracies involve secret oaths.

Conspiracies, coups, assassination attempts, knives, fleeing after failed assassinations, civil wars following attempted coups--all of these concepts sort of swirl to different degrees around many political narratives. 

You can't make a compelling case by slapping together a bunch of mediocre generic parallels and then showing how they all cluster together. You have to have at least some very strong and specific parallels to anchor your case, and I don't think any of yours sufficiently meet that criterion. Even if you did have a few very good parallels, there is a lot of subjectivity involved in determining when the case finally gets strong enough to conclude that derivation is most likely at play.

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To prove me wrong on this you only have to show that there is a better match between Gadianton and just one person from history. I'm certain there isn't a better match.

 

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All this appeal to complexity is just more obfuscation. It's not difficult to see the similarities between Gadianton and Catiline. And it's not difficult to test whether the similarities are significant. All you need to do is come up with one single match that's better to show mine is insignificant.

Not so. Even if you have the best match in the world (which, of course, you can never know because the vast majority of the world's history is unrecorded and would likely be too vast anyway to make a thorough analysis), it doesn't make a strong case for derivation. It only demonstrates comparative strength. I already addressed this in my previous post. 

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

I simply think your degree of specificity doesn't "hit it out of the park" and so all you have left is a cluster of fairly generic parallels, some of them better than others but none of them very strong. Because it is pretty easy to find clusters of generic parallels, your argument for (1) specific derivation falls flat, in my opinion. 

Turning your own argument around, if your only rebuttal is "simply waving your hands" and insisting that there is no real complexity involved, even though I have highlighted numerous specific aspects of that complexity, then it "looks like obfuscation in order to avoid the argument." 

I think we need some definitions. "General" and "specific" are both relative terms with no bright line to delineate them. I think of it like a spectrum with general on one end and specific on the other. In the most general case possible you could say there are two people. This is a meaningless parallel, of course, but it serves to delineate one end of the spectrum. Now you could say there are two men. This is more specific but, of course, still meaningless are far as parallels go. But we've moved some distance along the spectrum from general towards specific. As we add attributes that these two men share we continue to move toward the other end of the spectrum. So let's talk Gadianton and his attributes. Here's what we know about him (besides the fact that he's a man). 1) exceedingly expert in many words (Hel 2:4), 2) and in committing secret robbery (Hel 2:4), 3) and murder (Hel 2:4), 4) leader of a band (Hel 2:4), 5) wanted to become chief judge, (Hel 2:5) 6) promised the people in his band they would have power and authority if they helped him gain the judgment seat (Hel 2:5), 7) sent an assassin to murder the chief judge (Helaman 2:5-6), 8) motive was to murder, rob, and gain power (Hel 2:8) 9) fled the city to the wilderness through a secret way with his band when the assassination attempt failed, (Hel 2:11) 10) couldn't be found in the wilderness (Hel 2:11), 11) implicated (symbolically) in the total destruction of the Nephites Hel 2:13-14), 12) administered secret oaths to his band (Hel 6:24,26), 13) named Gadianton, 14) known as a robber. 

There is more that we can infer about Gadianton, but these are all the explicit characteristics or actions of Gadianton I could find. (If I missed any let me know.) There are also other people in the story and thematic elements and so forth. But for simplicity I want to concentrate on just one thing at a time and right now that is the parallels between these two men. If we go back to our spectrum we've been sliding along you'll see that we continue to move toward the specific end with almost every comparison. So what does the other end of the spectrum look like? If we were going to be ridiculous about it, perfect specificity would be that these two men shared the same DNA and lived identical lives, meaning they were one and the same. But the claim here is that the character Gadianton was borrowed from what's known about Catiline, so in this case, the other end of the spectrum would be that every detail known about Gadianton has an exact parallel with Catiline. Now, this isn't the case. There are a few details about Catiline that aren't perfect correspondences. Gadianton was exceedingly expert in words, for example, while Sallust describes Catiline's eloquence as adequate. Gadianton fled the city through a secret way while Catiline, it is said, fled in the dead of night. And unlike Gadianton, who wasn't found in the wilderness, Catiline was found (with his army) before the final battle. Also, while Gadianton is implicated symbolically with the total destruction of the Nephites, Catiline is merely a symbol of the fall of the Roman Republic. (The Gadianton Robbers generally are implicated in the destruction of the Nephite republic, but not Gadianton specifically.) And then there are the names which are not the same, but are similar to a certain degree. Everything else, though, is essentially a match. So here's my score for each item from 0 to 1: 1) 0.5 2) 1.0 3) 1.0 4) 1.0 5) 1.0 6) 1.0 7) 1.0 8) 1.0 9) 0.8 10) 0.0 11) 0.8 12) 1.0 13) 0.7,14) 1.0 for a total score of 11.8/14.0. This is a simple scoring method that doesn't assign weights to each characteristic or action, but it's pretty clear we're much closer to the specific end of the spectrum than to the general end. We're over 80% there. When I talk specificity, this is what I mean.

So far I've only looked at Gadianton vs Catiline. But there are other elements of the stories to compare and this is where clustering comes in. For instance, we have a related conspiracy that occurred 2 years earlier in both stories. This is another data point that clusters with the first. We also have several general characteristics of Gadianton Robbers that match general characteristics of Roman latrones. Then there is the entire comparison between the latro Tacfarinas and Phase 2 of the Gadianton Robbers which presents several more data points in the cluster. Each of the data points in the cluster will have its own specificity score. When you add them all together you get an overall score that gives you an idea, once you compare it with other proposed parallels, the relative significance of the parallel under examination.

Now, for a simple comparison, I'll look at some other conspirators in history and do a direct comparison to Gadianton. I'm not going to go looking for clustering at this point, though, because I want to keep it as simple as possible for now. Any suggestions on people to consider? I was thinking maybe Lenin and John Wilkes Booth. All these parallels I've mentioned are bound to happen in other conspiracies, right? So let's put that idea to the test with a few well known conspiracies.

Edited by JarMan
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18 hours ago, JarMan said:

I think we need some definitions. "General" and "specific" are both relative terms with no bright line to delineate them.

Isn't that what I have been saying all along. Your concept of "Specificity" wasn't specific enough. 

I would say it is important to look at how specifically accurate and granular a comparison is. Meaning what are the precise similarities and relevant differences between the things being compared? I'm not talking about random narrative differences here. I mean differences that are specific to the comparison itself. Saying that someone (Claudius) fled after an assassination attempt, is a lot different than saying specifically that the leader of the conspiracy fled (like Gadianton or Catiline) after a failed assassination attempt that they planned. Leaving the parallel at the vague level of "someone fled" obscures what I think we both agree are important differences in the comparison. These are the types of differences I have been talking about all along: differences that seem like they have direct bearing on the strength of the parallel itself. We both agree that you can have all sorts of other differences in the compared stories that have little bearing on the strength of the parallel. (This all is hopefully just clarifying our positions, and is not a rebuttal of anything in your last post).

However, I would also say that there is another thing that needs to be considered, and that is rarity or uniqueness. Parallels that involve fairly ubiquitous ideas are not as significant, even if they are specifically accurate and sufficiently granular. We need to be especially weary of clusters of concepts that are both ubiquitous in nature and for which there may be other plausible explanations for their clustering, other than the assumption that the author of one story was deriving the shared details from the other story.

Yet rarity or uniqueness is a lot harder thing to measure than accuracy and the degree of granularity. But it is still very important. You could make a comparison of two individuals who woke up in the morning, brushed their teeth, went to work, had a fight with their boss, vented about it on social media, and then got fired within a short amount of time. The details in such stories could very well be specific and accurate. And they could very well cluster together nicely. But these are the types of things that you would expect to happen together. That has been my biggest concern with most of your parallels. 

For example, I found that John of Gischala shares many of the same features as Catiline/Gadianton. And I disagree with some of your assessments of the parallels that you provided, even though I generally agree with them. Here is my list:

Similarities Between Gadianton and Catiline

Your Score

My Score

John of Gischala

1) exceedingly expert in many words (Hel 2:4)

0.5

0.5

0.7

2) and in committing secret robbery (Hel 2:4)

1.0

1.0

1.0

3) and murder (Hel 2:4)

1.0

1.0

1.0

4) leader of a band [of robbers] (Hel 2:4)

1.0

1.0

1.0

5) wanted to become chief judge, (Hel 2:5)

1.0

0.5

0.5

6) promised the people in his band they would have power and authority if they helped him gain the judgment seat (Hel 2:5)

1.0

1.0

1.0

7) sent an assassin to murder the chief judge (Helaman 2:5-6)

1.0

1.0

1.0

8.) motive was to murder, rob, and gain power (Hel 2:8)

1.0

1.0

1.0

9) fled the city to the wilderness through a secret way with his band when the assassination attempt failed, (Hel 2:11)

 

0.8

0.8

0.8

10) couldn't be found in the wilderness (Hel 2:11)

0.0

0.0

0.0

11) implicated (symbolically) in the total destruction of the Nephites Hel 2:13-14),

 

0.8

0.2

0.2

12) administered secret oaths to his band (Hel 6:24,26),

1.0

1.0

0.0

13) named Gadianton,

0.7

0.3

0.0

14) known as a robber. 

1.0

1.0

1.0

Total

11.8/14

10.3/14

9.2/14

As you can see, John of Gischala gets almost the same score. He is only off by about 1 point (by my unavoidably subjective scoring).

Now, you could argue with my scoring (as I disagreed with some of your points). But the very fact that many of these details appear in different historical narratives may mean that they cluster together for other reasons besides derivation. My intuition and impression, without any formal statistical analysis to back it up, is that they are simply not rare or unique enough to be very strong parallels. They seem to me like things that probably happen in lots of times and locations. In fact, that is the sense that we get in the Book of Mormon. Mormon makes a point to say that it was Satan who inspired the renewal of these activities among the Nephites (even though the same types of things were had among the Jaredites).

Is that possible? I think it is. Is it natural that people who want power will gather a following, do all they can to ensure the loyalty of their conspirators (oaths, promises of power), conspire to assassinate those currently in power, flee if their attempts fail, start a civil war, and so forth. Well, yes. Those seem to be natural paths to power and fairly common variables in what happens once those paths are taken. 

Late Edit: BTW, I'm taking the John of Gischala material from the account provided by Josephus. I just assumed you would figure that out quick if you weren't already familiar with it. 

Edited by Ryan Dahle
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Naturally, I disagree with some of your scoring. For instance, I would give 0 points for fleeing following a failed assassination attempt. His flight from Gischala has nothing to do with the story. I also didn't see where he promised his followers power and authority and I would give less than 1 for sending an assassin to kill the chief judge.

There are methodological problems with the event you've chosen. Potential bias exists because this event occurs in the same general milieu as Catiline. Cultural and historiographical similarities can bias the results. The word "robber'' is a perfect example. Also, since my proposed author would have also undoubtedly been familiar with this event, some similarities could be a result of emphasizing things that occur in similar contexts, such as the focus on murder and robbery. I did a quick analysis of John Wilkes Booth since the Book of Mormon obviously can't be biased by it. His score was somewhere around 3.

But putting this aside, we've only looked at a single data point. There are several more data points in the cluster that need to be examined. I will have to come back to this when I have some time.

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12 hours ago, JarMan said:

Naturally, I disagree with some of your scoring. For instance, I would give 0 points for fleeing following a failed assassination attempt. His flight from Gischala has nothing to do with the story.

That's fine. As I said, I disagree with some of your scoring as well. 

As for John's flight, I'm thinking of his flight to (not from) Gischala. An informant (Silas) reveals to Josephus that John is plotting against him (after the first plot failed). Josephus then marches upon Tiberias where John is conspiring against him. John sends men to assassinate Josephus, but people in the crowd warn Josephus and he barely escapes. But then John's cover is blown and the people generally become aware of his plots. So he has to flee Tiberias and escape to Gischala. 

12 hours ago, JarMan said:

I also didn't see where he promised his followers power and authority and

You are right on this. Rather, the text says, "some he corrupted with delusive frauds, and others with money, and so persuaded them to revolt from Josephus."  Of course, one could read into this that money often equals power, and that John's "delusive frauds" likely involved promises of power or other perks if they would place John in power (much like one can only assume that the name Catiline is derived from Gadianton, which I personally find unlikely). So you are right, this one probably shouldn't count, even though Josephus hints towards that possibility. But I think that the Catiline/Gadianton connection should probably be removed completely for the same reason. It is not a proven parallel like the others in the list, but rests only on speculation.

12 hours ago, JarMan said:

I would give less than 1 for sending an assassin to kill the chief judge.

Why is that? The text says, "John privately sent some armed men, and gave them orders to slay [Josephus]."

This is easily as close to the Gadianton narrative as the Catiline story is, as far as I understand it.

12 hours ago, JarMan said:

There are methodological problems with the event you've chosen. Potential bias exists because this event occurs in the same general milieu as Catiline. Cultural and historiographical similarities can bias the results.

I already addressed this. It is also a big problem if you are wanting to argue for specific derivation based on clusters of similarities in specific details. If those types of specific details more or less cluster together in multiple stories, then their clustering could possibly be due to other causes rather than to idiosyncratic cultural tendencies or historiographical bias. It could also easily be due to patterns that naturally occur in such contexts. More on this below.

12 hours ago, JarMan said:

I did a quick analysis of John Wilkes Booth since the Book of Mormon obviously can't be biased by it. His score was somewhere around 3.

Well, this is also a problem because it seems you will be more likely to find a good match in stories in a milieu that is closer in time to when the Book of Mormon purportedly took place. A 19th century example would be ideal for the reasons you mentioned, but it may be less likely. 

A better option would be to look at all known historical data from the ancient world that is closer in time (probably 1000 BC to about AD 500 would be a good start) to the Book of Mormon. And then determine what the rates of textual data are in all other known societies compared to how much text is available from ancient Rome. If you end up with enormous constraints in the comparative data sets (which I think we all know exist), then that poses a major problem for your thesis. Also, even the sparse historical data that we do have from other societies would need to be the same type of historical data as from Rome, and also it would need to compare in its level of granularity. If historians in other societies didn't tell stories with the specific level of detail that the Roman historians did, then that data really wouldn't count for comparison. You have to compare apples to apples.

In short, what we are seeing may simply be a product of sample sizes. You may very well have a significantly disproportionate amount of granular historical data from Rome than can be found in most ancient civilizations. How do you know that among the hundreds of unrecorded coup and assassination stories in other ancient cultures and societies, you wouldn't find similar clusters of specific details?

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

That's fine. As I said, I disagree with some of your scoring as well. 

As for John's flight, I'm thinking of his flight to (not from) Gischala. An informant (Silas) reveals to Josephus that John is plotting against him (after the first plot failed). Josephus then marches upon Tiberias where John is conspiring against him. John sends men to assassinate Josephus, but people in the crowd warn Josephus and he barely escapes. But then John's cover is blown and the people generally become aware of his plots. So he has to flee Tiberias and escape to Gischala. 

Ok, I thought you were referring to the plot to take over Jerusalem. So this alters my scoring a little bit. It's hard to tell what John's motives were in the plot against Josephus. It doesn't look like he was trying to replace him. It looks more like Josephus was an obstacle to John's plans to cause havoc.

11 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I already addressed this. It is also a big problem if you are wanting to argue for specific derivation based on clusters of similarities in specific details. If those types of specific details more or less cluster together in multiple stories, then their clustering could possibly be due to other causes rather than to idiosyncratic cultural tendencies or historiographical bias. It could also easily be due to patterns that naturally occur in such contexts. More on this below.

I don't understand your logic here at all. I think there are both specific and general similarities to Roman history. We've concentrated on probably about a third or less of what I see as specific similarities, and only a portion of the general similarities. If the Catiline story was all I had my position would be weaker than what it is. The more specifics I lay out, the stronger my case and the less chance there is for coincidence.

11 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Well, this is also a problem because it seems you will be more likely to find a good match in stories in a milieu that is closer in time to when the Book of Mormon purportedly took place. A 19th century example would be ideal for the reasons you mentioned, but it may be less likely. 

A better option would be to look at all known historical data from the ancient world that is closer in time (probably 1000 BC to about AD 500 would be a good start) to the Book of Mormon. And then determine what the rates of textual data are in all other known societies compared to how much text is available from ancient Rome. If you end up with enormous constraints in the comparative data sets (which I think we all know exist), then that poses a major problem for your thesis. Also, even the sparse historical data that we do have from other societies would need to be the same type of historical data as from Rome, and also it would need to compare in its level of granularity. If historians in other societies didn't tell stories with the specific level of detail that the Roman historians did, then that data really wouldn't count for comparison. You have to compare apples to apples.

I'm not sure you're appreciating the problem of using other stories from classical Rome for comparison. We have to use an unbiased baseline for the comparison to be valid. This is true in any scientific endeavor, even in the softer sciences. Many study results have been invalidated for this type of flawed methodology. The largest unbiased set of data would be all known human history outside of what was known by my author and outside the cultural context of the classical Greco-Roman world. It's not valid to limit the baseline to antiquity. First of all, after excluding the sources we need to exclude, there may not be much to draw from. But even assuming there was sufficient historical material, we can't make arbitrary delineations if we want a valid baseline. For these reasons and for the reasons you mentioned, we have to include events like Abraham Lincoln's assassination. We need events from Asia and Sub-Saharran Africa, from probably any time period. Basically, anything after 1645 is valid as well as anything not available to the best educated European in 1645. This is the only way to ensure an unbiased baseline

11 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

In short, what we are seeing may simply be a product of sample sizes. You may very well have a significantly disproportionate amount of granular historical data from Rome than can be found in most ancient civilizations. How do you know that among the hundreds of unrecorded coup and assassination stories in other ancient cultures and societies, you wouldn't find similar clusters of specific details?

This is why we need a baseline that is as broad as possible without being potentially biased by the factors I mentioned. And we can't apply arbitrary constraints.

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37 minutes ago, JarMan said:

Ok, I thought you were referring to the plot to take over Jerusalem. So this alters my scoring a little bit. It's hard to tell what John's motives were in the plot against Josephus. It doesn't look like he was trying to replace him. It looks more like Josephus was an obstacle to John's plans to cause havoc.

On the contrary. Josephus says this was precisely his intent: "and, as he supposed, that if he could once overthrow Josephus, he should himself obtain the government of Galilee"

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1 hour ago, JarMan said:

I'm not sure you're appreciating the problem of using other stories from classical Rome for comparison. We have to use an unbiased baseline for the comparison to be valid. This is true in any scientific endeavor, even in the softer sciences. Many study results have been invalidated for this type of flawed methodology. The largest unbiased set of data would be all known human history outside of what was known by my author and outside the cultural context of the classical Greco-Roman world. It's not valid to limit the baseline to antiquity. First of all, after excluding the sources we need to exclude, there may not be much to draw from. But even assuming there was sufficient historical material, we can't make arbitrary delineations if we want a valid baseline. For these reasons and for the reasons you mentioned, we have to include events like Abraham Lincoln's assassination. We need events from Asia and Sub-Saharran Africa, from probably any time period. Basically, anything after 1645 is valid as well as anything not available to the best educated European in 1645. This is the only way to ensure an unbiased baseline

As I said, I think that path would be ideal for the reasons you have stated.

But it is also less ideal in the sense that if the Book of Mormon is what Joseph Smith understood it to be (an account of ancient American inhabitants) then a lack of a good match in modern cultures would not by any means rule out the other primary theory which competes with your own. Modern "robbers," coups, and assassination attempts may not have the same degree of clustering as ancient stories. Who knows, maybe they do. I have no idea. I wasn't sure what I would find, but John of Gischala actually matches up with the Catiline/Gadianton parallels very well.

But since we have way more modern data (and we will never have enough ancient data), it seems good to exhaust modern sources as much as possible. And of course, modern data would better rule our your theory, which seems to invoke a historian who apparently could know any story from any ancient culture anywhere. ;)

So, by all means, go for it. 

Edited by Ryan Dahle
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29 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

On the contrary. Josephus says this was precisely his intent: "and, as he supposed, that if he could once overthrow Josephus, he should himself obtain the government of Galilee"

Good point.

12 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

As I said, I think path would be ideal for the reasons you have stated. But it is also less ideal in the sense that if the Book of Mormon is what Joseph Smith understood it to be (an account of ancient American inhabitants) then a lack of a good match in modern cultures would not by any means rule out the other primary theory which competes with your own. Modern "robbers," coups, and assassination attempts may not have the same degree of clustering as ancient stories. Who knows, maybe they do. I have no idea. 

But since we have way more modern data (and we will never have enough ancient data), it seems good to exhaust modern sources as much as possible. And of course, modern data would better rule our your theory, which seems to invoke a historian who could apparently know any story from any ancient culture anywhere. ;)

So, by all means, go for it. 

I have a specific person in mind. He was well read in ancient history, both Roman and Greek. He cited Sallust, Tacitus, Josephus and many other ancients extensively. He wrote extensively about warfare, government, religion, and the bible. He knew Hebrew, was familiar with chiasmus, wrote his own country's history in the Tacitean style, wrote plays with themes in the Book of Mormon (Joseph in Egypt, Adam in the garden, Christ's passion). He was an Arminian (the flavor of doctrine in the Book of Mormon), opposed infant baptism, and fiercely critical of Calvinism (also themes in the Book of Mormon). 

13 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

But I think that the Catiline/Gadianton connection should probably be removed completely for the same reason.

I've shown this to others who think it's very significant.

I will move on to another data point now: the events of both conspiracies. I will leave out items already discussed.

1) Chief judge dies, leaving a vacancy (Hel 1:2). / Term-limited consulship vacancy occurs. [0.5]

2) Serious contention about who should fill the vacancy (Hel 1:2). / Two men are elected consul. Then they are prosecuted for bribery. Another election is held. [0.5]

3) Three brothers were in contention (Hel 1:3-4). / Four men were in contention (for two positions). [0.7]

4) Pahoran appointed by the voice of the people (Hel 1:5). / Two consuls are elected. [0.8]

5) Pacumeni, one of the unsuccessful candidates, stands down (Hel 1:6). / Sulla, one of the unsuccessful candidates, stands down. [1.0]

6) Paanchi, one of the unsuccessful candidates, rises up in rebellion (Hel 1:7). / Autronius, one of the unsuccessful candidates, rises up in rebellion [1.0]

7) Paanchi is put to death (Hel 1:8). / Autronius is exiled three years later. [0.5]

8 ) Paanchi's followers were angry (Hel 1:8). / Autronius and others plotted to kill the consuls and senators. It can be implied they were angry. [0.5]

9) Sent Kishkumen to the judgment seat (Hel 1:9). / Planned to kill at the Capitol and Senate. [0.5]

10) Assassination was successful (Hel 1:9). [0.0]

Total Score: 6/10

1) Another conspiracy occurred 2 years later (Hel. 1:1)  [1.0]

2) Kishkumen, involved in the first conspiracy, conspires against chief judge (Hel 2:3). / Autronius, involved in the first conspiracy, conspires against consul. [0.8]

3) Helaman's servant gives a secret sign (Hel 2:7). [0.0]

4) Helaman's servant had infiltrated the secret group and learned of the conspiracy (Hel 2:6). / Fulvia, Cicero's informant, relates the conspiracy to Cicero. [0.8]

5) Helaman's servant kills Kishkumen, leading him to the judgment seat (Hel 2:8-9). / Five conspirators are killed without a trial. [0.5]

6) The assassination attempt is unsuccessful. [1.0]

7) Healaman's servant tells Helaman (Hel 2:9). [0.0]

8 ) Helaman searches for the band in order to punish them, but cannot find them. [0.0] (Hel 2:10-11)

Total Score: 4.1/8

I'm not sure how to score John's conspiracy, here. There were two separate conspiracies a few years apart. You might be able to muster a few points, but nowhere near 10.

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7 hours ago, JarMan said:

I have a specific person in mind. He was well read in ancient history, both Roman and Greek. He cited Sallust, Tacitus, Josephus and many other ancients extensively. He wrote extensively about warfare, government, religion, and the bible. He knew Hebrew, was familiar with chiasmus, wrote his own country's history in the Tacitean style, wrote plays with themes in the Book of Mormon (Joseph in Egypt, Adam in the garden, Christ's passion). He was an Arminian (the flavor of doctrine in the Book of Mormon), opposed infant baptism, and fiercely critical of Calvinism (also themes in the Book of Mormon). 

Yeah. I know. But that person probably doesn't know much or anything at all about eastern Asia or southern Africa or the Americas. So ancient data from those regions is probably about is good as data from beyond the mid-17th century. 

7 hours ago, JarMan said:
22 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

But I think that the Catiline/Gadianton connection should probably be removed completely for the same reason.

I've shown this to others who think it's very significant.

Well, and now you've shown it to people who don't find it very significant, for the specific reasons stated previously. 

7 hours ago, JarMan said:

1) Chief judge dies, leaving a vacancy (Hel 1:2). / Term-limited consulship vacancy occurs. [0.5]

2) Serious contention about who should fill the vacancy (Hel 1:2). / Two men are elected consul. Then they are prosecuted for bribery. Another election is held. [0.5]

3) Three brothers were in contention (Hel 1:3-4). / Four men were in contention (for two positions). [0.7]

4) Pahoran appointed by the voice of the people (Hel 1:5). / Two consuls are elected. [0.8]

5) Pacumeni, one of the unsuccessful candidates, stands down (Hel 1:6). / Sulla, one of the unsuccessful candidates, stands down. [1.0]

6) Paanchi, one of the unsuccessful candidates, rises up in rebellion (Hel 1:7). / Autronius, one of the unsuccessful candidates, rises up in rebellion [1.0]

7) Paanchi is put to death (Hel 1:8). / Autronius is exiled three years later. [0.5]

8 ) Paanchi's followers were angry (Hel 1:8). / Autronius and others plotted to kill the consuls and senators. It can be implied they were angry. [0.5]

9) Sent Kishkumen to the judgment seat (Hel 1:9). / Planned to kill at the Capitol and Senate. [0.5]

10) Assassination was successful (Hel 1:9). [0.0]

Total Score: 6/10

I think here is where your comparisons have lots of problems with important differences with the things being compared. Just like you balked when I used the escape of Claudius as a parallel to the escape of Gadianton, I find many or your similarities here to be weak. Here is my scoring:

Helaman 1-2

Catiline

Your Score

My Score

1) Chief judge dies, leaving a vacancy (Hel 1:2).  

Term-limited consulship vacancy occurs.

0.5

0.2

2) Serious contention about who should fill the vacancy (Hel 1:2).

Two men are elected consul. Then they are prosecuted for bribery. Another election is held.

0.5

0.2

3) Three brothers were in contention (Hel 1:3-4).

Four men were in contention (for two positions).

0.7

0.2

4) Pahoran appointed by the voice of the people (Hel 1:5).

Two consuls are elected.

0.8

0.4

5) Pacumeni, one of the unsuccessful candidates, stands down (Hel 1:6).  

Sulla, one of the unsuccessful candidates, stands down.

1.0

0.7

6) Paanchi, one of the unsuccessful candidates, rises up in rebellion (Hel 1:7).  

Autronius, one of the unsuccessful candidates, rises up in rebellion

1.0

0.7

7) Paanchi is put to death (Hel 1:8).

Autronius is exiled three years later.

0.5

0.0

8 ) Paanchi's followers were angry (Hel 1:8).

Autronius and others plotted to kill the consuls and senators. It can be implied they were angry.

0.5

0.0

9) Sent Kishkumen to the judgment seat (Hel 1:9).

Planned to kill at the Capitol and Senate.

0.5

0.2

10) Assassination was successful (Hel 1:9).

 

0.0

0.0

Total

 

6/10

2.6/10

In almost every category, there are notable differences that in my mind almost completely compromise the comparison. I'm not going to go into each one. I just think the things being compared in this sequence provides little evidence to further your argument.

I also would score the other section a bit differently:

Helaman 1–2

Catiline

Your Score

My Score

1) Another conspiracy occurred 2 years later (Hel. 1:1)  

 

1.0

1.0

2) Kishkumen, involved in the first conspiracy, conspires against chief judge (Hel 2:3).

Autronius, involved in the first conspiracy, conspires against consul. 

0.8

0.0

3) Helaman's servant gives a secret sign (Hel 2:7).

 

0.0

0.0

4) Helaman's servant had infiltrated the secret group and learned of the conspiracy (Hel 2:6).

Fulvia, Cicero's informant, relates the conspiracy to Cicero.

0.8

0.8

5) Helaman's servant kills Kishkumen, leading him to the judgment seat (Hel 2:8-9).  

Five conspirators are killed without a trial. 

0.5

0.2

6) The assassination attempt is unsuccessful.

 

1.0

1.0

7) Healaman's servant tells Helaman (Hel 2:9).

 

0.0

0.0

8 ) Helaman searches for the band in order to punish them, but cannot find them. (Hel 2:10-11)

 

0.0

0.0

Total

 

4.1/8

3/8

As for John, he would score about the same in the above section, and probably fare poorer in the previous section. But in my mind, the previous section was a poor fit anyway (2.6/10), so that hardly amounts to much. Overall, I just don't see the Catilinarian episode being much closer to Helaman 1-2 than John's is. 

I'm really just not that interested anymore. This is becoming tedious, and I doubt rehashing Part 1 any further is going to change our positions. Perhaps Part 2 and Part 3 are way stronger than Part 1. Or perhaps I would raise the same types of concerns and you would push back with the same types of apologetic responses (we are all apologists, are we not ;)). In the end, I think you have found an interesting set of similarities.

Whether those similarities reflect specific dependence at the story level, general dependence at the cultural level, or generic patterns across cultures remains to be proven, imo (at least for Part 1, as I can't speak to Part 2 or 3). Maybe at some point, once you've conducted exhaustive comparative analysis, we will be a few steps closer to assessing the situation. Unfortunately, you will never get close enough because we lack so much historical data from the ancient world.

I think in the end, you can probably make a decent case that it is plausible that Helaman 1-2 could be dependent upon Roman history. But I doubt you will ever be able to make the case that it almost certainly is dependent on it. 

I really do have to sign out now. The conversation has been interesting, but it is becoming too time-consuming. Good luck. 

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11 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Or perhaps I would raise the same types of concerns and you would push back with the same types of apologetic responses (we are all apologists, are we not ;)).

I don't have a pre-conceived position I am trying to defend like an apologist. I have simply built a hypothesis based on the evidence and am now trying to fine-tune and test that hypothesis...based on the evidence, not my beliefs. This is a significant difference.

11 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Maybe at some point, once you've conducted exhaustive comparative analysis, we will be a few steps closer to assessing the situation. Unfortunately, you will never get close enough because we lack so much historical data from the ancient world.

You should apply this same measuring stick to supposed Meso-American parallels. The thing is, you don't need an exhaustive analysis to discredit any of them. You just need the right data point for comparison. So far I haven't seen a single piece of evidence for the historical conception of the Book of Mormon that isn't surpassed by evidence supporting the early modern hypothesis. I'm ready to have my mind changed on this account, though.

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