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Book of Mormon Historicity


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4 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

To my bold: You been watchin' conspiracy theories lately Willis? ;) I happen to have just finished watching one about Hollywood and the CIA putting out messages through them.

 

Willis, huh.  Willis Stemelbow?  I thought maybe he had a stem of an arm as an elbow.  Maybe I should start calling him Willis now.

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10 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

So, you don't think that the Bible and Homeric Epic are equivalent works of literature with real historical underpinnings, but with unprovable divine claims?  Don't many children of the Enlightenment assume that the Bible is heavily interlarded with fictional elements?  What are these "false equivalencies" you tout?

Yes, certainly a kind of "truth."  It is often said that fiction is more truthful than non-fiction.  Those who are particularly dense won't understand what that means.

Having said that, however, it is an issue whether a literary work is just fiction.  George R. R. Martin did heavily use the War of the Roses and the geography of the British Isles to create his complex "Game of Thrones," and very successful work of fiction (complete with fire-breathing dragons).  Thus, one has to ask the question whether the BofM is likewise merely a work of fiction freely based on a contemporary knowledge of history and geography.  Making a claim that the text of the BofM is EModE only forces us to place its origin in an earlier period of time.  That doesn't change its vaunted fictional nature.

It is not only "the dialogue between the scripture and the reader" which is at issue, and not the only important issue.

You have a nasty habit of putting false assertions into others’ words.

Stop that now.

You are not the judge for the reader, the scripture, and their dialogue.

You have your opinion, and I believe it is immaterial.

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4 minutes ago, bluebell said:

One professor said the best was when a disagreement on whether or not the feudal system actually existed or is a modern construct came to actual blows.

One might say the professors...went medieval on each other. ;)

Edited by OGHoosier
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1 hour ago, bluebell said:

One professor said the best was when a disagreement on whether or not the feudal system actually existed or is a modern construct came to actual blows.

With swords or lances, I hope. 

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2 hours ago, JamesBYoung said:

You have a nasty habit of putting false assertions into others’ words.

Stop that now.

You are not the judge for the reader, the scripture, and their dialogue.

You have your opinion, and I believe it is immaterial.

We all bring a POV to everything we read.  Each of us has an opinion.  There is not only one, totalist POV applicable to all literature.  We are all free to make assertions, with the understanding that not everyone (perhaps no one) will share our POV.  You believe that my opinion is immaterial.  We all have our strong beliefs, but you might want to broaden your purview just a bit, James.

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1 hour ago, OGHoosier said:

Timbuktu is famous. Nihm is minutiae. Anyways, as to your point about maps published near Joseph: https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/joseph-and-the-amazing-technicolor-dream-map-part-2-of-2/. It's from 2016, so it's possible that new information has come forward of which I am not aware. If so, I'd love to hear it. The long and the short of it is: the closest map with references to Nihm/Nehhm to Joseph that we can identify with certainty was 200 miles away from Palmyra and 300 miles away from Harmony. Not exactly close. So, no map with the relevant information can be demonstrated to be in his vicinity. There's the possibility that he was exposed to a map by travelling booksellers or friends, but even then, the maps don't track well with the account of Lehi's Trail. No dependency can be established that explains 1st Nephi. 

Again, my information could be out of date.  But if it is I am not aware of it. 

This will always be the problem with NHM as evidence. There were maps that predated the publication of the Book of Mormon and there is a possiblity, as you say, that Smith was exposed. The likelihood of a dependency increases when we allow for inputs from Cowdery, Whitmer or any number of people that were in that circle in the 1820s.

Since the Jenkins/Hamblin debate I have been in communication with Jenkins to discuss my hypothesis that Smith and Cowdery were drawing from popular speculation about the migrations of Israelite tribes while the Smiths were living near Dartmouth. In particular, I was looking at an ancient Indian text from 1765 printed in London that I suspected Smith was drawing from. Jenkins knew of the translator of this text, a well-known British diplomat, and suggested I do more leg work. I poked around in Mormon circles for a few years and was told several times that there was no possible way that Smith had access to this text because it was 'minutiae' and too distant. Then three days ago, while looking through the books available in the Manchester Library, I found that Hannah Adams had summarized that text in her "Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations".

If Nehhm was on Neibuhr’s map dating to 1792 and Nikkum was on Morse's map listed in Manchester Library (four miles from Smith), the most likely explanation for its appearance in the Book of Mormon is that one of the participants to the translation of the Book of Mormon saw it on a map.

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Just now, Rajah Manchou said:

This will always be the problem with NHM as evidence. There were maps that predated the publication of the Book of Mormon and there is a possiblity, as you say, that Smith was exposed. The likelihood of a dependency increases when we allow for inputs from Cowdery, Whitmer or any number of people that were in that circle in the 1820s.

Since the Jenkins/Hamblin debate I have been in communication with Jenkins to discuss my hypothesis that Smith and Cowdery were drawing from popular speculation about the migrations of Israelite tribes while the Smiths were living near Dartmouth. In particular, I was looking at an ancient Indian text from 1765 printed in London that I suspected Smith was drawing from. Jenkins knew of the translator of this text, a well-known British diplomat, and suggested I do more leg work. I poked around in Mormon circles for a few years and was told several times that there was no possible way that Smith had access to this text because it was 'minutiae' and too distant. Then three days ago, while looking through the books available in the Manchester Library, I found that Hannah Adams had summarized that text in her "Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations".

If Nehhm was on Neibuhr’s map dating to 1792 and Nikkum was on Morse's map listed in Manchester Library (four miles from Smith), the most likely explanation for its appearance in the Book of Mormon is that one of the participants to the translation of the Book of Mormon saw it on a map.

As I'm sure you know, a summary is not the same thing as the text. Nevertheless, I don't know what text you are referring to, so there's not much more I can say. 

Since I don't believe Cowdery or Whitmer were conspirators/co-creators of the text, I find arguments that use them as sources to be unconvincing. 

The consensus surrounding Neibuhr's map is that it was too far away for Smith to reliably access; a traveling copy must be posited. Then there's the relevant time depth and the fact that the maps referenced all complicate the account of the the Jerusalem-Bountiful journey in ways that the Book of Mormon text does not reflect. I'd say the theory stretches, personally, but if it satisfies you than so be it. 

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14 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

As I'm sure you know, a summary is not the same thing as the text. Nevertheless, I don't know what text you are referring to, so there's not much more I can say. Since I don't believe Cowdery or Whitmer were conspirators/co-creators of the text, I find arguments that use them as sources to be unconvincing. 

The next problem is that we tend to argue that "Smith was the sole translator" in one thread and that "Smith couldn't possibly be the author" in the next. I'm reading another thread right now that says Smith couldn't have written it by himself, so it must have been this or that person from the XXth century. In this thread I feel we're again limited to Smith alone producing the text.

9 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

The consensus surrounding Neibuhr's map is that it was too far away for Smith to reliably access; a traveling copy must be posited. Then there's the relevant time depth and the fact that the maps referenced all complicate the account of the the Jerusalem-Bountiful journey in ways that the Book of Mormon text does not reflect. I'd say the theory stretches, personally, but if it satisfies you than so be it. 

My personal experience with the Hannah Adams text is that the argument that it "was too far away" for Smith to access won't hold through research and scrutiny.

What is your opinion on Nikkum, found in Morse 1828?

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1 hour ago, Rajah Manchou said:

There were maps that predated the publication of the Book of Mormon and there is a possiblity, as you say, that Smith was exposed. The likelihood of a dependency increases when we allow for inputs from Cowdery, Whitmer or any number of people that were in that circle in the 1820s.

When we consider all of the references that had to have been available to Joseph Smith in the late 1820's during the time the Book of Mormon was coming together, and the note taking and cross-checking that had to have occurred to create a credible history that has stood up to scholarly scrutiny for 200 years, with a growing improvement on historical credibility as time goes on, the co-conspirator idea is the only plausible way for all that supposed research to have happened.  There's just no way that Joseph could have done that all on his own.  But I keep trying to figure out a scenario where this co-conspirator theory plays out with what transpired in the events of history, not to mention what would be their motive to do that. They give Joseph Smith all the credit (calling him the "prophet") and they take the back seat and keep it all a secret?  What's in it for them?  Is it that they don't have to be the one to die as a martyr for sticking to the story?  

The main participants during the time of the translation were among the witnesses to the gold plates and the angel of God and other visions and revelations through the years, and several of them including two key players, David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery, actually left the church (with Oliver returning later).  You would think that being disaffected with the church and its leadership as they were, that it would have been a great time for them to reveal the great secret of the origin of the Book of Mormon.  But no, nothing like that happened.  There's just no way that I can see that as being even a remotely plausible scenario.

Edited by InCognitus
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2 hours ago, bluebell said:

When I was getting my history degree, my professors loved to talk about the fights that scholars would get into at history conferences over differing interpretations of the same data.  One professor said the best was when a disagreement on whether or not the feudal system actually existed or is a modern construct came to actual blows. ...

 

2 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

One might say the professors...went medieval on each other. ;)

 

2 hours ago, bluebell said:

:lol:

 

1 hour ago, Calm said:

With swords or lances, I hope. 

If so, I hope all parties were wearing armor, too! ;)

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3 hours ago, Calm said:

Or they both move very fast.

Yeah!  Heh! ;)

 

Edited by Kenngo1969
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35 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

That's the whole point. The data don't tell the story; we do. 

And what data we have might tell different stories? 

Where does that leave us in answering Bluebell's question? What evidence is there that the BOM is a historical record?  Is there any evidence?

Edited by Rajah Manchou
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2 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

The next problem is that we tend to argue that "Smith was the sole translator" in one thread and that "Smith couldn't possibly be the author" in the next. I'm reading another thread right now that says Smith couldn't have written it by himself, so it must have been this or that person from the XXth century. In this thread I feel we're again limited to Smith alone producing the text.

I freely confess to arguing within a "Smith was the sole translator" paradigm because I find a conspiracy roping in Cowdery, the Whitmers, and the Smiths untenable. It's just too broad and trial-tested and requires too much dismissal of eyewitness testimony for me to feel comfortable accepting it. The Book of Mormon manuscript is manifestly a dictation, which makes no sense if Cowdery and Whitmer are already in on it. It's unlikely that the educated Cowdery, demonstrably prone to soaring language, would be behind a book with such grammar and relatively bland didactic tendencies as the Book of Mormon - the text has literary quality but not much by way of vivid, exultant wording. Multiple Whitmer brothers appear as scribes which means the entire family would have to be in on it, expanding the circle of conspirators further. Eyewitness testimony from the Hales' and others attests the accuracy of descriptions of the translation efforts. All of this besides the sacrifices the witnesses later went through for the book and the gain they passed up. I'm sorry, I just can't believe it. 

2 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

My personal experience with the Hannah Adams text is that the argument that it "was too far away" for Smith to access won't hold through research and scrutiny.

A reflexive dismissal of "too far away" deserves additional scrutiny, sure. But this question has been researched for decades. I think enough surveying of the material has been done to give us relative confidence. 

2 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

What is your opinion on Nikkum, found in Morse 1828?

Nikkum is not found in Morse 1828. The map from Geography Made Easy as cited by Lindsay has nothing related to Nahom or Nikkum at all. Nikkum is referred to in The American Universal Geography: Or, A View of the Present State of All the Kingdoms, States, and Colonies in the Known World, vol. 2, 6th ed., Boston: Thomas and Andrews, 1812, also written by Morse and present in the Manchester Library. It is unlikely that Joseph would have used the Manchester Library; neither he nor anyone who would later be associated with the Church ever subscribed to it, thus they would not have had access. Furthermore, Palmyra was closer than Manchester and had, from 1828, a public library, though by 1828 Joseph had moved to Harmony. There were a number of bookstores he would have been able to browse, the contents of which cannot be 100% nailed down. I'm going to be honest, I'd be interested in going through the newspapers and assembling as complete a catalog as I can, but at this very minute it's late and I am tired, so I will leave that to another time. The one published inventory that I was able to nail down didn't have anything by Morse, Neibuhr, D'Anville, or anybody else providing a detailed geography of Arabia. 

Aside from access issues, I think that Nikkum wouldn't give much information away unless Joseph knew about Hebrew hard H's and when they were applicable, and he hadn't learned Hebrew yet. Furthermore, if he had been going for a phonetic Hebrew representation in the BoM, he could have put it Nachom, which indicates that the issue wasn't on his radar. Furthermore, nothing available to anyone on earth at that point in time would have been able to tell Joseph how far back the NHM association with that land went; relevant because most of the names in those maps are from significantly later. It also wouldn't account for the prominence of burial monuments and monument work within the region, relevant because the Book of Mormon specifically highlights Ishmael's burial. Finally, these maps do not provide sufficient information for the rest of Lehi's trail, and frankly contradict or complicate it at some points, which weakens their utility as sources. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Where does that leave us in answering Bluebell's question? What evidence is there that the BOM is a historical record?  

Asked and answered (by me and a number of others).

1 hour ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Is there any evidence?

Certainly.  Whether the evidence is sufficiently relative, probative, and "admissible" is a fairly separate issue.  But it's rather untenable to suggest that no evidence exists at all.  I have a theory as to why critics are so adamant about this point.

About 2 years ago our own Ryan Dahle started a thread that went on for 45 pages: Why Not Engage the Evidence for Historicity?  You participated in that thread, IIRC.  I perused it a few days ago.  Funny how we end up recycling the same arguments over and over.

Thanks,

-Smac

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