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Book of Mormon Historicity


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15 hours ago, Ahab said:

History is what actually happened in the past, so yes this history not some kind of magic.  People who lived in the past wrote/recorded what is now known as the Book of Mormon and one of those original writers, named Moroni, appeared as a messenger/angel to Joseph Smith to tell him where he had put those records before he died.  

There is nothing magical or supernatural about any of this stuff.  Magic is illusion while history is what actually happened.  And life and death are natural, too, as well as what happens when people eventually die.

So what would I prefer?  That you take this stuff more seriously, even if you want to throw in your own sense of humor for some additional flavor.

Well, the problem is everyone has their opinion.  That which you call history is not history to most of humanity.  It's simply myth brought about through magical claims.  Again I mean no offense, but giving space where we can discuss and allow each other opinion seems reasonable, no?  

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10 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

This is interesting to me because of the Nephite monetary system mentioned in Alma 11. Silver and gold weren't near the top of the exchange system, but I'm going to assume they still were considered a valuable trade item; they just didn't command the same value as they did in the Old World. Do you think the Nephites maintained a higher value on gold or silver than their neighbors, or was gold just a convenient medium which could be easily transferred into other goods as wanted, ie "a senum of silver was equal to a senine of gold, and either for a measure of barley, and also for a measure of every kind of grain." Are there other examples within Mesoamerica of gold being used as a trade standard?

I don't know of any systems using gold. One means of standardized exchange was cacao beans. Frankly, I suspect that we have some translation issues that place gold and silver in prominent positions in the Book of Mormon due to the translation of concepts rather than nouns. Gold and silver seem to function as a literary pair and may be a merismus for all valuable things. 

On a slightly different note, unworked gold was a tribute item sent to the Aztec rulers in the Codex Mendoza, along with multitudes of other items. It appears, to me, from the unworked nature and the other goods, that it was for the purpose of created items from the gold rather than keeping it for intrinsic value.

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4 hours ago, stemelbow said:

Well, the problem is everyone has their opinion. 

No, that's not the problem.  The problem is that some people's opinions are wrong. 

4 hours ago, stemelbow said:

That which you call history is not history to most of humanity.

And yet it is what really happened.  So the people who don't believe it really happened are just wrong.

4 hours ago, stemelbow said:

 It's simply myth brought about through magical claims. 

No, that's not what it actually is.  That's only what some people think it is.  And they probably don't really care whether or not they are right or wrong just as long as they feel free to have their own opinion, whatever they'd rather believe.

And I say that based on the main point of many people I have heard from when anyone dares to disagree with them. They focus on "that's not what I believe" rather than being willing to ask God to tell them whether or not something is true.

4 hours ago, stemelbow said:

Again I mean no offense, but giving space where we can discuss and allow each other opinion seems reasonable, no?  

Sure, okay, you share your opinion and I will share mine, just as you have seen that I am willing to do.

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5 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

Gold and silver seem to function as a literary pair and may be a merismus for all valuable things. 

"a senum of silver was equal to a senine of gold..."

This doesn't read to me as a merismus or a literary pair, but instead reads as distinguished articles of trade with very specific and differing measurements of value, equivalent to a measure of barley.  To me, it doesn't sound like a merisumes for "all valuable things".  It is too specific in measurement and equivalencies. 

Edited by pogi
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34 minutes ago, pogi said:

"a senum of silver was equal to a senine of gold..."

This doesn't read to me as a merismus or a literary pair, but instead reads as distinguished articles of trade with very specific and differing measurements of value, equivalent to a measure of value.  To me, it doesn't sound like a merisumes for "all valuable things".  It is too specific in measurement and equivalencies. 

I understood Grant's point to be that the important part of their measuring system wasn't necessarily the gold or silver but the standards of measure.  Like cups vs tablespoons or teaspoons, maybe  I'm still open to more ideas.

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19 minutes ago, Ahab said:

I understood Grant's point to be that the important part of their measuring system wasn't necessarily the gold or silver but the standards of measure.  Like cups vs tablespoons or teaspoons, maybe  I'm still open to more ideas.

It sounded to me like he was saying they didn't actually use gold and silver to trade with, but that those are code words used as a merismus for "all valuable things".  However, if "gold and silver" is a merismus for all valuable things, then it wouldn't really make sense to give them very specific and differing measurements of value which are each equivalent to a measure of barley or other grain.  This does not read like a merismus representing "all valuable things" to me, it reads more like specific and differing items of trade with exact equivalencies (which you can't really say the same for "all valuable things").  

Edited by pogi
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1 minute ago, Ahab said:

I understood Grant's point to be that the important part of their measuring system wasn't necessarily the gold or silver but the standards of measure.  Like cups vs tablespoons or teaspoons, maybe  I'm still open to more ideas.

Alma 11:7 would seem to indicate that these are standardized measures across a number of commodities. It's quite possible that God, in transmitting the Book to Joseph Smith, emphasized gold and silver as the commodity of exchange because it would be more readily understandable to the target audience of the Book. 

On the other hand, I think it's possible that the Nephites retained a higher degree of reverence for gold and silver than other nations around them. We know that gold-fever, likely a holdover from the Old World, overtook the Nephites within the lifetime of Jacob (cf. Jacob 2:12). We know the temple of Nephi was decked out in gold and silver and precious metals (cf. 2 Nephi 5:15-16). So the first couple of generations thought gold and silver were pretty legit. It wouldn't have any outsize trade value outside the Nephite nation, but internally gold could have retained a pretty high degree of value. The rest of the references in the Book, to my knowledge, refer to gold as an artisan craft (Riplakish having fine gold refined in prisons, Noah decking his throne out with gold) or as tribute (Benjamin mentioning that he didn't demand gold of his people, the Lamanites demanding gold as well as other commodities of the people of Limhi), which would comport alright with Brant's observations. Alma 11 is the anomaly, but I think it can be explained along those lines. 

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13 minutes ago, pogi said:

It sounded to me like he was saying they didn't actually use gold and silver to trade with, but that those are code words used as a merismus for "all valuable things".  However, if "gold and silver" is a merismus for all valuable things, then it wouldn't really make sense to give them very specific and differing measurements of value which are each equivalent to a measure of barley or other grain.  This does not read like a merismus representing "all valuable things" to me, it reads more like specific and differing items of trade with exact equivalencies (which you can't really say the same for "all valuable things").  

No, the standards of measure would have been the senums and the senines and all that.  The gold and silver were just examples of things that were measured.  Like how we might say 1 cup of flour is equal to 16 teaspoons of sugar.

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1 hour ago, pogi said:

"a senum of silver was equal to a senine of gold..."

This doesn't read to me as a merismus or a literary pair, but instead reads as distinguished articles of trade with very specific and differing measurements of value, equivalent to a measure of value.  To me, it doesn't sound like a merisumes for "all valuable things".  It is too specific in measurement and equivalencies. 

Good point.  The text specifically calls out the measure of gold and silver.  That doesn't work as merismus.  

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29 minutes ago, Ahab said:

No, the standards of measure would have been the senums and the senines and all that.  The gold and silver were just examples of things that were measured.  Like how we might say 1 cup of flour is equal to 16 teaspoons of sugar.

I'll let Mr. Gardner speak for himself, but I didn't see any mention of "standards of measure" in the quote I am responding to.  That doesn't seem to be his point at all.  The point he seems to be making is that gold and silver didn't really have intrinsic value and were not really used for trade by the Nephites, but that those are code words for "all valuable things".   Given the context of the verse referenced, that doesn't make sense to me.  It doesn't read like a merismus to me.  I think OGHoosier's explenation makes more sense in that they may represent very specific commodities with very specific and differing measurements of value, rather than representing "all valuable things".   Gold and silver seem to represent very specific commodities with the value of a senum of one being equivalent to the value of a senine of another.   "All valuable things" doesn't work as a merismus in that sense.  If gold and silver is a merismus for "all valuable things", then all valuable things are equivalent in value to a measure of barley according to that passage.  It doesn't really work.

Edited by pogi
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2 hours ago, pogi said:

"a senum of silver was equal to a senine of gold..."

This doesn't read to me as a merismus or a literary pair, but instead reads as distinguished articles of trade with very specific and differing measurements of value, equivalent to a measure of barley.  To me, it doesn't sound like a merisumes for "all valuable things".  It is too specific in measurement and equivalencies. 

I apologize for not being clear. In the listing of values, it is a separate unit and therefore not part of a merismus. It is in the other texts where we typically see them as a set.

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9 minutes ago, Brant Gardner said:

I apologize for not being clear. In the listing of values, it is a separate unit and therefore not part of a merismus. It is in the other texts where we typically see them as a set.

Thanks for clarifying.  What is your opinion about that particular verse then if you believe that gold and silver didn't hold any intrinsic value and were not used in trade?

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1 hour ago, pogi said:

Thanks for clarifying.  What is your opinion about that particular verse then if you believe that gold and silver didn't hold any intrinsic value and were not used in trade?

Honestly, I suspect that it is a translation issue using modern expectations of units of value as translation for units we wouldn't value. As you can tell, I don't think there is a word for word correspondence in the translation. There are any number of places where the modern equivalent was clearly used (such as the metaphor of threshing/chaff and a ship's rudder).

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Error 

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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17 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

Honestly, I suspect that it is a translation issue using modern expectations of units of value as translation for units we wouldn't value. As you can tell, I don't think there is a word for word correspondence in the translation. There are any number of places where the modern equivalent was clearly used (such as the metaphor of threshing/chaff and a ship's rudder).

Why do you suppose translation of text, or translation of ideas represented by text, would focus on value rather than simply on whatever is being represented by that text?  Something's value is relative, but that "something" is still whatever it is.

So here we are talking about units of measure... which were used to measure whatever was being measured... while we are trying to understand what those units of measure were.  Those units of measure had names, whatever those names were, and Joseph Smith provided those names as he translated the Book of Mormon.  I think I get your point that when mentioning those units of measure the primary goal was to tell us about those units of measure rather than focusing on gold and silver, which were simply used as examples of things that could be measured and which they did measure, but now you seem to be talking about units of value rather than units of measure. I'm not clear on what your point is about this.

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I wonder about what it would be like to be a church member during the times of the Book of Mormon.

They had no worries about historicity but looked forward to the coming of the savior.

It was pure faith.

Why can't we be like that today? ;)

 

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1 minute ago, mfbukowski said:

I wonder about what it would be like to be a church member during the times of the Book of Mormon.

They had no worries about historicity but looked forward to the coming of the savior.

It was pure faith.

Why can't we be like that today? ;)

 

On the one hand: mobbings, murders, repeated dispossession and expulsion. 

On the other hand: pure faith, miracles abundant, and the ministration of angels. 

"Lord, if those were Dark Ages, give me a little darkness."

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7 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

I wonder about what it would be like to be a church member during the times of the Book of Mormon.

They had no worries about historicity but looked forward to the coming of the savior.

It was pure faith.

Why can't we be like that today? ;)

 

Because history is fun.

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19 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

I wonder about what it would be like to be a church member during the times of the Book of Mormon.

They had no worries about historicity but looked forward to the coming of the savior.

It was pure faith.

Why can't we be like that today? ;)

 

When one’s faith is based in part on the narrative of historicity (I would suggest that is the case for most Latter-day Saints), then defending the historicity is the same as defending the faith. It also speaks to the credibility of the prophet Joseph Smith.  There is an important balance between faith and reason.

Edited by pogi
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1 hour ago, Ahab said:

Why do you suppose translation of text, or translation of ideas represented by text, would focus on value rather than simply on whatever is being represented by that text?  Something's value is relative, but that "something" is still whatever it is.

So here we are talking about units of measure... which were used to measure whatever was being measured... while we are trying to understand what those units of measure were.  Those units of measure had names, whatever those names were, and Joseph Smith provided those names as he translated the Book of Mormon.  I think I get your point that when mentioning those units of measure the primary goal was to tell us about those units of measure rather than focusing on gold and silver, which were simply used as examples of things that could be measured and which they did measure, but now you seem to be talking about units of value rather than units of measure. I'm not clear on what your point is about this.

You must have missed the post where I agreed that in the list of measure equivalents, they terms are not used as merismus. They are still possibly translation issues, but not cases of merismus.

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55 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

I wonder about what it would be like to be a church member during the times of the Book of Mormon.

They had no worries about historicity but looked forward to the coming of the savior.

It was pure faith.

Why can't we be like that today? ;)

 

They did have to contend with the charge that Nephi stole the brass plates and the rights of government from his brothers.

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Just now, Brant Gardner said:

You must have missed the post where I agreed that in the list of measure equivalents, they terms are not used as merismus. They are still possibly translation issues, but not cases of merismus.

Maybe missed in the sense of missing some of what you meant when you used that term - merismus.  Would you please break that down so that even a child who doesn't know that word would understand what you mean?

Some real world examples that I might often see in my world might help me a little bit.

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2 hours ago, Ahab said:

Maybe missed in the sense of missing some of what you meant when you used that term - merismus.  Would you please break that down so that even a child who doesn't know that word would understand what you mean?

Some real world examples that I might often see in my world might help me a little bit.

Merismus is a literary technique where two words are paired in a way that creates a meaning that is more expansive than the words themselves. An example might be "he described the root and branch of the problem," where "root and branch" suggest the whole tree (of course implying something extensive). From the Maya we have "the fathers, the mothers" which includes all ancestors. The least obvious is the Aztec "flowers and song" which means war.

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6 minutes ago, Brant Gardner said:

Merismus is a literary technique where two words are paired in a way that creates a meaning that is more expansive than the words themselves. An example might be "he described the root and branch of the problem," where "root and branch" suggest the whole tree (of course implying something extensive). From the Maya we have "the fathers, the mothers" which includes all ancestors. The least obvious is the Aztec "flowers and song" which means war.

Okay, thank you.  I think I can see now why the Lehite standards of measure would not be considered an example of a merismus.  I understand each of the standards of measure... senum, senine, onti, etc... to be independent measures rather than paired combinations of measure, much like cups vs tablespoons or teaspoons are independent measures even though they can be combined together to create greater measures.  It never even occurred to me that someone might think of their measures as an example of a merismus.

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7 hours ago, pogi said:

When one’s faith is based in part on the narrative of historicity (I would suggest that is the case for most Latter-day Saints), then defending the historicity is the same as defending the faith. It also speaks to the credibility of the prophet Joseph Smith.  There is an important balance between faith and reason.

Yet, by requiring historicity, the the discussion of spiritual matters is hijacked into areas irrelevant to spirituality. 

And yet what is most peculiar is that all leaders AND scholars will ultimately come back to Moroni 10, James 1 etc and insist that what is "really" important is a spiritual testimony of the BOM.

The credibility of Joseph Smith should ultimately be judged by the quality of the theology he was inspired to create, not his methodology, just as Beethoven should be judged by his music and not the details of his life or his methodology in creating it.  The historic fact that he was deaf at the end of his life and could not even hear his own music is inspiring and unbelievably remarkable, yet it is the quality of that music that is its own final judge, not the historic facts.

What is the ultimate result of seeing God as an exalted human- and what does that imply for our personal lives?

Does that give meaning to our lives?

Does belief in the Atonment bring us peace in our lives despite the fact that we all have done bad things?

Would those concepts still function as among the best spiritual paradigms created by humans- AND that includes an Exalted Human God - even if the person Jesus of Nazareth never lived or Joseph never received Golden Plates?

I strongly suggest that they would- that these timeless ideas are strong enough to speak to all of humanity, if only it was presented that way,  instead of relying on past events of a spiritual nature when history cannot ever prove their spiritual validity anyway

The idea that God will forgive our sins if only we believe he will, and repent and do all we can to correct the deeds we have done, and heal our grief and guilt, is a powerful powerful belief regardless of who preached it or how such an idea came to be.

It has changed lives for at least 20 centuries, and the history of its origination is irrelevant to its spiritual power.  It is the BELIEF in that principle that changes lives, not the facts of its history.

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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