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David Bokovoy on Deutero and Trito Isaiah in the Book of Mormon


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2 minutes ago, Nevo said:

The phrase "demands of justice" was not rare at all in the nineteenth-century, as a cursory glance at virtually any database of nineteenth-century texts will attest.

Here is just a small sampling of publications from 1820s: 

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

Once one has found such later use, then it is a simple matter to calculate the statistical levels of usage over time, and to indicate when peak usage occurred.  If "demands of justice" appears both early and late, then it is not as diagnostic as a term which does not appear later.  In other words, it can be ignored as part of the stream of a language which continues to flow.  Not everything becomes extinct.

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1 hour ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

Robert, this needs to be done BEFORE we assert that the Book of Mormon is an Early Modern English text. This is the negative check that is necessary to make such an assertion.

And it hasn't been done.

Were we to abide that advice, no research would ever get done.  Carmack and Skousen have rightly felt obligated to report the data as they have found it.  Carmack has been publishing his data now for years in the Interpreter.  If his work is so flawed, we advance understanding by pointing out the flaws, not on denying that such research should be systematically reported.

1 hour ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

From where I sit, the problem is that I can repeatedly find examples of this sort of thing everywhere I look - and because the searchable data-set of texts contemporary with the publication of the Book of Mormon continues to improve, the task only gets easier. For any specific phrase or construction, the rarity of its use in English in 1830 (and afterwards) is as good now as it canl ever get - and for most of them, the rarity will decline as our digital, searchable collections get better.  And this means that a great deal of what is asserted to be problematic language in an 1830 authorship model (whether a translation or not isn't particularly important to this point) isn't in fact all that problematic.

If so, then the only way to deal with those problems is to report them in systematic fashion.

1 hour ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

And this is a reasonable conclusion since its first readers don't seem to have struggled all that much with the language itself either.

Actually that is not so, Ben.  Hardly anyone read the BofM in the 19th century.  And the first chance Joseph himself had to make corrections to all the "bad grammar," he made corrections galore (2nd ed, 1837, corrections in his hand).  And that sort of thing continued on into the 20th century, with the vast changes by James Talmage (1920 ed.).  The same case could also be made for the KJV.  These texts are not easy to understand at all.

1 hour ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

This issue that you point out also exists at the other end of the time spectrum, doesn't it. That we can date some specific constructs to an early occurrence within a time frame that Jarman likes doesn't mean that it was common. How quickly do new terms move in to the language stream? When the Book of Mormon contains vocabulary that, as far as we can tell was coined by Shakespeare - doesn't this make that language naturally quite rare in that time period? Understandably, we run into problems in terms of gauging frequency once we get early enough (there simply isn't as much written, published, or surviving - and certainly not as much that exists in easily searchable digital formats). But at the same time, finding one or two sources that put a construct into an Early Modern English time frame, and continuing the notion of a language stream, is this really Early Modern English, or is it rather early Modern English (if you get the distinction). You may recognize that language is more of a continuum, but there are several here who don't seem to recognize this in their arguments.

And all of this still avoids the bigger problem which exists when we start to actually question the function of the text, the nature of its audience, how the text was used and read. Is the presence of undetstandable but archaic language part of the larger rhetorical staging of the message? This was, as lots of people have noted, a not uncommon rhetorical feature of texts at the time (even if others were not executed so well). There is this intuited leap going on here from the identification and use of Early Modern English language in the Book of Mormon to some sort of necessary Early Modern English authorship - and quite frankly, it doesn't make any sense on many levels.

Yes, it is very confusing.  My take on it is that we are only getting started in evaluating the language of the Book of Mormon.  Even the anti-Mormon Institute for Religious Research (IRR) is creating a critical text of the Book of Mormon, with an emphasis on embedded biblical quotations.

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Fairly simple NPs like "demands of justice" are very weak indicators of the text's linguistic character. This phrase and other red herrings are treated in a published paper on the Ngram Viewer that Bob has linked to before. "Demands of justice" arose in the middle of the 17c, and in the Book of Mormon it's surrounded by syntax and vocabulary characteristic of that time period.

Edited by champatsch
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29 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

We can never achieve zero on any phenomenon of that kind, but we should be able to demonstrate statistical peaks and valleys diachronically.  Achieving zero assumes that we know everything and control the data, which we do not.

Also, an 1829 BofM in EModE does not imply "translation."  Also possible is the original creation of the BofM the same way Tolkien produced his wonderful tall tales.

So, there is english, later than EmodE in the book of mormon, right?

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9 minutes ago, champatsch said:

Fairly simple NPs like "demands of justice" are very weak indicators of the text's linguistic character. This phrase and other red herrings are treated in a published paper on the Ngram Viewer that Bob has linked to before. "Demands of justice" arose in the middle of the 17c, and in the Book of Mormon it's surrounded by syntax and vocabulary characteristic of that time period.

Is there english, more modern than EmodE, in the book of mormon?

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Bob, think about this. Is the syntax "«cause/command/desire/suffer» X that X <modal aux.> <infinitive>" characteristic of the late modern period? (Very common in the Book of Mormon.) No, no linguist will tell you that about such syntax. Only Book of Mormon English critics will make indefensible claims like that.

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17 minutes ago, Robert J Anderson said:

So, there is english, later than EmodE in the book of mormon, right?

 

16 minutes ago, Robert J Anderson said:

Is there english, more modern than EmodE, in the book of mormon?

According to Carmack and Skousen, yes, but more and more examples on that short list are turning out to be early rather than late.  We need reliable diagnostics -- including statistical charts.

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1 hour ago, champatsch said:

The production history of the Book of Mormon is, of course, different from other texts, so a lot of what you write here is irrelevant. Nor are we interested in vague general discussions. We're more interested in the data. Still waiting for you to find late modern examples of specific items mentioned above and mentioned in NOL. That could be helpful. And it would be helpful if you could find modern texts with the Book of Mormon's verb complementation or relative pronoun or nominative absolute or agentive of or non-3sg {-th} or subjunctive shall or more part or subordinate that patterns.

There is a term that gets used for this notion: Special Pleading. It's a logical fallacy (and I am sure you have heard of it). How is the production history of the Book of Mormon different from other texts? And when you assert its difference, does the assertion actually prevent anyone from providing some sort of negative check?

But for the record, here is what I have time for this morning. So let's start with your "the more part of" ok? I notice in your one article that you mention a late use by Edward Freeman (well several uses, since I think it occurs seven times in that text right?).

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Even though most OED quotations occur before the 17th century, the last-dated example in the dictionary is surprisingly late — 1871. This was a conscious, scholarly use by an Oxford historian, Edward Freeman, apparently well-versed in old historical writings such as Holinshed’s Chronicles — heavily used by Shakespeare — which employed many instances of “the more part (of )”

Somehow the OED misses his later volume which uses it three times: General sketch of history. Adapted for American students. (pp. 76, 183, and 198). Or perhaps we should discuss the poet William Morris (1834-1896) who uses this language in his The Life and Death of Jason (published in Boston in 1867), or his The Earthy Paradise, also published in Boston in 1871. The text (just so that we are clear) reads in the first case "That on an island builded was the place the more part of it;" and in the second: "I led ashore the more part of our men".

Perhaps as a poet, he liked archaic language too. So then we see it in William Roberton's (1823-1892) The History of Scotland, during the reign of Queen Mary and King James VI (published in New York in 1856), which gives us "and yet the more part of them was reduced".

But he's another historian right? So let's look at something completely different. In 1875, North Carolina (the State) published a Report of the Geological Survey of North Carolina prepared by Washington Kerr (the state geologist). It gets used twice in that volume (pp. 34 and 136): "It is noticeable that both these rivers receive the more part of their water and all their larger tributaries from the north" and "including the mass of the Smoky Mountains and its eastern escarpment for the more part of its course"

There are a lot more (and I don't have the time to list them). But there is another reference worth mentioning. I am sure you are aware of Poutsma's Grammar of Late Modern English? This is from Part II The Parts of Speech, Section 1, A. (1914). (p. 437).

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The more part is still in use as an archaism.
The more part of them perished by falling over the rocks. Freeman, Norm. Conq. IV, XVIII, 117
I led ashore the more part of our men W. Morris, The Earthly Par., Prol., 16b.

Archaic, yes. In use long after the publication of the Book of Mormon? Yes. The 1871 language isn't all that surprising once you start seeing it in many places.

I will get back with you on the other request you make of me when I have a few minutes (and have physical access to my library), but let me ask your opinion (since I am not a linguistic expert by any stretch of the imagination). Would any of these work as absolute nominative syntax?

1) Frank Stribling, as he was called, possessed a limited education, but considerable poetic energy as well as matrimonial enterprise, he having been married three times.

2) Mr. J. D. Vanhoovenburgh was the first sheriff, as stated by Mr. Dewey, he having been appointed by the governor to that office at the first organization of the county, and while Michigan was a territory.

3) The friends of Dr. Pitcher in other States have given gratifying tokens of their respect by making him a member of their various scientific organizations, he having been elected an honorary member of the New York and Rhode Island Medical Societies, corresponding member of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, of the New York Lyceum of Natural History, and of the New York and Minnesota Historical Societies, and trustee of the Michigan State Insane Asylum.

4) Mr. Hunt was probably the oldest Mason in Michigan at the time of his death, he having been a member of that order for over seventy years.

5) Mr. O'Neill's demise was rather sudden, he having been confined to the house less than a week.

6) Mr. Shearer was probably most known as supervisor and as a member of the board of supervisors, he having been elected to that office many times after he moved to his farm in 1864.

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We can of course find rare scattered examples of various things. That's not the issue. The Book of Mormon has a concentration of many archaic features in abundance, and many more than I've mentioned above (and below). Why don't you find us a text that approaches the nonbiblical archaic features the Book of Mormon possesses, if it is, as you continually imply, merely a run-of-the-mill early 19c pseudobiblical text.

I am well aware of late-19c scholarly instances of the more part. None of these scholars, however, employ the two rare variants found in the Book of Mormon, and its use is less biblical than Freeman's or Morris's or Stevenson's. In fact, it's anti-biblical in its use: 11 of its 24 non-adverbial instances could've been like the King James Bible's two instances, but none of the 11 are. Why don't you show us a 19c text with the Book of Mormon's two rare early modern variants and a dozen or so instances of more part phraseology, half of what the Book of Mormon has.

Of course there is some nominative absolute in the late modern period, but hardly ever or not at all to the degree we find it in the Book of Mormon. It has 62 instances of "<subj.pron.> being/having" in nonbiblical sections. If this had been common late modern usage, then we should be able to find thousands of texts with these levels. And if this was something to be expected, then the usage should be higher in pseudobiblical texts. In the 25 pseudobiblical texts I've consulted, however, I encounter no more than five of these in any single text — nothing approaching even 10 or 20. The peak period of use was the 1540s to the 1690s. There was a sharp dropoff after that, as shown by ECCO. That 150 year stretch is when we frequently find textual usage rates that exceed the Book of Mormon's. We don't find such a cluster in the late modern period. By the 1820s, the textual average is about one in 100,000 words. The Book of Mormon is 25/100k.

How about pointing us to a text that has hundreds of instances of finite complementation after the verbs cause, command, desire, grant, and suffer. How about pointing us to some late modern texts that have some of the striking personal relative pronoun patterns of the Book of Mormon, also some with the text's "he that" and "they which" divergence. What about showing us texts that exhibit the early modern pronoun constraint on non-3sg {-th} usage, or texts with varied early modern non-2sg art usage. How about finding some late modern texts with eight different types of subordinate/pleonastic that usage, with shall and should employed multiple times as subjunctive markers in the subordinate clause. Why don't you show us a text with a bunch of pro-form "save it were/was/be" usage in it. How about showing us a text with a bunch of "if it so be" in it, with several instances of subjunctive shall and should. I'm still waiting on "of which/whom hath been spoken". How about finding a text with many varied examples of agentive of, where the usage rate compared with agentive by is about 50%. How about finding a text with 12 instances of "had spake" and one of "been spake". Maybe you can find some modern texts with "there was many (persons) which" or "there was but few (persons) which". How about finding a modern text with a few instances of "nor no manner of X". How about finding a text with five or ten instances of object "they which". Etc.

Here's a list of potential lexical archaisms. Maybe you can find a bunch of late modern examples of these, or pseudobiblical texts with a few of these: about to ‘engaged in preparations to’; begin to ‘begin at/with’; but if ‘unless’; cross ‘contradict (a statement)’; desirous ‘desirable’; do away ‘dismiss, put away’; extinct ‘of a person: dead’; flatter ‘coax’; give ‘represent, describe, portray’; have choice ‘have a choice’; have welfare ‘have success’; how be it ‘however it may be’; hurl ‘drag’; idleness ‘frivolous, foolish behavior’; manifest ‘declare, state in detail’; mar ‘hinder, stop’ (late mod. Scottish); raign ‘arraign’; scatter ‘of persons: separate (from the main body)’; search knowledge ‘search for knowledge’; sermon ‘discussion’; subsequent ‘resulting’; subtle to do ‘subtle in doing’; tell ‘prophesy’ (specific); to that ‘until’; what is it ‘why?’; whereby ‘why?’

Edited by champatsch
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If you think about it, if the OED has it right on a few of these potential Book of Mormon archaisms, things like but if and desirous and whereby, then these support the weaker ones like counsel and manifest, as well as quite a few instances of lesser-known biblical archaism like break and require. From this, we get that JS didn't control a lot of Book of Mormon vocabulary. So, if the OED isn't currently wrong about obsolescence in a few relevant instances, which McGuire seems to dispute, then we have a significant result. And of course a lot of syntax would support this.


On more part phraseology: Edward Freeman, who employed the obsolete usage a few times in the 1870s, was an Oxford scholar who knew Holinshed's Chronicles (1577, 1587) quite well. This sprawling Tudor history has the most instances of this phraseology, in more than 2 million words. The usage was already in a noticeable decline by then, so that Holinshed's Chronicles 's fairly heavy usage (but at a rate well below, for example, Elyot's Image of Governance [1541]) can be considered conservative. By the end of the 1600s, the non-adverbial usage was rare. As a result, there's very little original usage to be found in the 18c. ECCO has a hard-to-find poetic instance noted in the OED, but virtually all that we find in that massive database is reprinted language from old British statutes.  A mid-18c dictionary even calls more part usage obsolete (both singular and plural). So we don't need to take the word of someone interested in the usage in relation to the Book of Mormon.

William Morris was a medievalist and a revivalist in his sensibilities, and so he began to use the phrase in some of his writings, beginning around 1870, 40 years after the Book of Mormon. Many of us know about the great Scottish novelist RLS, who also employed the language in some of his writings. Morris was the greatest exponent of the usage in the late 19c, yet he still didn't use either "a more part" or "the more parts" with a meaning of 'most'.

So we may ask ourselves, how is it that JS revived the usage so convincingly, better than scholars after him did? The critics will have their answers, but the simplest one is that JS wasn't controlling the usage.

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On the nominative absolute. Independent reviewers note that Google's Ngram Viewer isn't very reliable for the 18c, and the further back in time we go, the worse it gets. Here's the nominative absolute with subject pronouns that are clearly subjects (so no 2nd person) and the high frequency verbs being and having:

image.png.9ee23e098f2877fd55972a72d576d053.png

It's quite inaccurate for the 1600s. By 1830, with much higher reliability, we see a rate of 1 in 100,000 words. This means that were the Book of Mormon a text of its time or even a pseudobiblical text, it might have had a few of these, probably no more than 10, and certainly not 62.

Here's a more reliable chart derived from EEBO1 and ECCO:

image.thumb.png.8ce651aea156f313fe5dbc3d9de8cddb.png

We can see an early modern high plateau. There are dozens of lengthier texts during this time whose rates exceed the 2.5 per 10k of the Book of Mormon.

Edited by champatsch
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Until I moved to Utah, I had never heard the construction which leaves out the verb "to be" in a single clause of a short declarative sentence like the following:

"The car needs washed", for "the car needs to be washed" or "The snow needs shoveled" for "The snow needs to be shoveled".   An alternate way of saying these might be "The car needs washing" using the gerund form instead.

Is there a name for this usage?  I would like to find out more about it- sources?

Just curious with all you Utahn grammar experts hereabouts..... ?

 

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23 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Are you referring to Prof Skousen's multivolume work on the FARMS Book of Mormon Critical Text Project, including his Earliest Text published by Yale University?  Do you have any of those volumes, or have you read any of them?

Or are you referring to the heavy series of articles by Dr Stan Carmack in the Interpreter on the Early Modern English phenomenon in the Book of Mormon, upon which Prof Skousen has also commented extensively?  See this video, if you have no idea what I am talking about, https://youtu.be/5KfoSVsH7Vg .

 

I have not read any of his recent work.  I did not ask fallaciously, nor was I judging his efforts.  I just wanted to get an idea of how wide an audience has been reached with his Early Modern English research.

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1 hour ago, sunstoned said:

I have not read any of his recent work.  I did not ask fallaciously, nor was I judging his efforts.  I just wanted to get an idea of how wide an audience has been reached with his Early Modern English research.

I am just guessing, but based on very long experience, I would say that hardly anyone outside of a handful of scholars are aware of and perhaps have read the Carmack articles.  Even less have bothered to go over Skousen's detailed volumes.  Skousen's Earliest Text is probably much better known since it makes for an excellent read, if you want to read the BofM.  It will likely be years before a broad assortment of scholars have taken a close look at the Skousen-Carmack analysis.  In ten years, perhaps we could get a quantum computer to take at look at the data.

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8 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

In ten years, perhaps we could get a quantum computer to take at look at the data.

This is often where things start to get really interesting. As an MA student, I spent a weekend in the highlands of Sulawesi with an American professor of linguistics who was involved in the Proto-Austronesian Project. Essentially, people like him were seeking to record dying Austronesian languages before they could disappear in an attempt to further recreate the earliest Austronesian language. In the past, comparative linguistics took a researcher who knew a couple of languages a lifetime to pull off, but now the data are all fed into computers. He then mentioned that numerous proto-language projects had started feeding their data into a larger computational analysis, and the early results were unexpected. Specifically, they were suggesting that the world's languages are more closely related temporally than previously assumed, all having descended from a single language about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.

I asked him how he and others might interpret this (if the data held) in light of the dates we accept for the peopling of certain continents. He said they were theorising that maybe a single language had spread with the science of agriculture. Then he shrugged his shoulders. Of course, I have no idea if the data held, and it's possible different results have come since. I wish I knew. Anyone else in the know?

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21 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Specifically, they were suggesting that the world's languages are more closely related temporally than previously assumed, all having descended from a single language about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.

Wouldn’t that be fun if true. So many speculations, so little time. 

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8 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

This is often where things start to get really interesting. As an MA student, I spent a weekend in the highlands of Sulawesi with an American professor of linguistics who was involved in the Proto-Austronesian Project. Essentially, people like him were seeking to record dying Austronesian languages before they could disappear in an attempt to further recreate the earliest Austronesian language. In the past, comparative linguistics took a researcher who knew a couple of languages a lifetime to pull off, but now the data are all fed into computers. He then mentioned that numerous proto-language projects had started feeding their data into a larger computational analysis, and the early results were unexpected. Specifically, they were suggesting that the world's languages are more closely related temporally than previously assumed, all having descended from a single language about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.

I asked him how he and others might interpret this (if the data held) in light of the dates we accept for the peopling of certain continents. He said they were theorising that maybe a single language had spread with the science of agriculture. Then he shrugged his shoulders. Of course, I have no idea if the data held, and it's possible different results have come since. I wish I knew. Anyone else in the know?

I was thinking only of feeding data on EModE and other forms of English into a quantum computer (speed and capacity so much better than conventional computers today) so as to classify which books fit into which category.  However, you raise here a far more complex issue, that of historical linguistics.

It isn't at all controversial to suggest that all Indo-European languages are related historically, and that a group of people spoke one coherent Proto-Indo-European language before branching out and diversifying.  The same is often done for other language families, such as Afro-Asiatic, which includes very early written records (Egyptian, Akkadian).  Applying lexicostatistics and glottochronology, experts have tried to reconstruct the earlier forms of whatever proto-language.  However, even at best, one can only go back a limited amount of time, and we are still left with a range of macrofamilies of different languages.  We can certainly not go back earlier than 10,000 B.C in such theoretical reconstructions, and that is not one macrofamily, but a very diverse group of different macrofamlies separated geographically.  And by that time, divergent types of humans, such as Neanderthals and Denisovans had already become extinct.  We are talking enormous time depths here.

Modern humans began migrating out of Africa at least by 210,000 years ago (cf. Apidima Cave, Greece), and each group separated by tens of thousands of years would have spoken a different language.  There would likewise have been an enormous diversity of language within Africa itself going back to a still earlier period -- allowing for a couple million years perhaps.  There is no way for us to even imagine what a language was like at the dawn of time.

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I'm hopeful to get back to the original topic.  Admittedly, I missed the the turnoff for EMoDe in the BoM (mostly out of disinterestedness).  I would really like more discussion on the Isaiah issues that Kevin began laying out.  I also understand that Gileadi has made some interesting comments on the topic.  I'd be interested in David Bokovoy's responses to Kevin, Barker, and Gileadi, etc.

That said, a few comments on Bokovoy.  I've enjoyed Bokovoy's work for a long time.  I think he is clearly an impressive Hebrew scholar.  Still, my frustrations with his work are several.  Bokovoy has some very impressive and substantive material, but in much of what I have read and seen (in videos) he's very dismissive of opinions he disagrees with.  For example, he will summarily dismiss theories as quasi-conspiracy theories without acknowledging the minority of academics that sincerely disagree with him.  I think it tremendously unfair to place Barker in a crack-pot category simply because she disagrees with 80% of other academics, including Bokovoy.  Are there scholarly reasons to accept post-Exilic Deutro-Isaiah?  Certainly.  But it seems absolutely clear that there are competent theories to disagree.  I've never seen Bokovoy give much attention or acknowledgment to these explanations.

That's not to say he is necessarily wrong.  Good, objective scholarship, however, requires admitting what's there as much as pointing out what's not.  In my view, Bokovoy, although very competent, prefers the academic bully pulpit to push his particular view.  That is very frustrating.

Part of why I appreciated Bokovoy was his even-handed approach.  He would explain the scholarship in what I thought was as objective as possible.  In fact, he was, if not apologetic, at least sensitive in navigating Isaiah issues within a faithful view of the Church.  I don't get a sense that he was dishonest in doing so.  When Bokovoy decided to leave the Church for familial issues related to the Church's LGBTQ policies, that prior approach seemed to go right out the window.  Bokovoy turned from critical to antagonistic, and emotionally so.  In a word, I find his work frustratingly suspect--not because it's poor, but because I trust that he will now take every liberty to criticize the BoM under the guise of scholastic aptitude without giving fair treatment to an opposing view.  I wish he was as fair having left the church as he was while still a member.

Of course, these are observations from someone that does not know Bokovoy personally.  My opinion is based on having read much of his work and listening to recordings.  If others have an alternative perspective, I'd be interested.

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More on topic, the material constituting Deutero-Isaiah is also interesting: "Every single chapter of Deutero-Isaiah contains multiple borrowings from older biblical literature."

https://www.thetorah.com/article/deutero-isaiah-reworks-past-prophecies-to-comfort-israel

As pointed out, there is interesting material challenging the post-Exilic Deutero-Isaiah theory.  Putting those aside for a moment, the evidence of borrowing, admittedly, does not take the BoM over the Deutero-Isaiah hump, alone.  Just because elements and themes were pre-Exilic does not mean the text was.  Nevertheless, I've wondered about the evolution of Isaiah being an important part of the book.  Deutero-Isaiah is premised on the book being a work in progress, changing over time.  Given that Christ quoted Deutero-Isaiah as Isaiah (compare Isaiah 42:1-4 with Matthew 12:17), he either didn't know it wasn't Isaiah or was completely comfortable with the evolutionary nature of the book.  And so I wonder if it's evolutionary nature is purposeful.  If so, what bearing does that have on our view of Joseph Smith including post-Exilic material as "updates" to the content on the Brass Plates?  Of course, that would assume that Joseph Smith was working from a King James Bible to make the "update," a notion that even critical historians such as Metcalfe have rejected.

While I do not know the full implications of borrowing as it relates to Deutero-Isaiah, it casts Bokovoy's mysterious new paper in a very tenuous light.  Because there is notably no Trito-Isaiah text in the BoM, Bokovoy must rely on common elements and themes.  For that paper to be meaningful, it is not enough to show Trito-Isaiah elements and themes throughout the BoM.  Rather, Bokovoy and his padawan have the unenviable task of showing that the commonalities between Trito-Isaiah and the BoM are not only material, but wholly unique (and not both borrowed) from pre-Exilic literature.  If any of those elements exist in older biblical literature, then Bokovoy is going to have a hard time showing that the older biblical literature is not the common borrowed source.  Good luck demonstrating that uniqueness in the post-Exilic world of the BoM.

I'd be interested in writing a joint response to Bokovoy's paper along these lines with one of our more distinguished members, if interested.

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37 minutes ago, PacMan said:

More on topic, the material constituting Deutero-Isaiah is also interesting: "Every single chapter of Deutero-Isaiah contains multiple borrowings from older biblical literature."

https://www.thetorah.com/article/deutero-isaiah-reworks-past-prophecies-to-comfort-israel

As pointed out, there is interesting material challenging the post-Exilic Deutero-Isaiah theory.  Putting those aside for a moment, the evidence of borrowing, admittedly, does not take the BoM over the Deutero-Isaiah hump, alone.  Just because elements and themes were pre-Exilic does not mean the text was.  Nevertheless, I've wondered about the evolution of Isaiah being an important part of the book.  Deutero-Isaiah is premised on the book being a work in progress, changing over time.  And I wonder if that's a purposeful part of the book.  If so, what bearing does that have on our view of Joseph Smith including post-Exilic material as "updates" to the content on the Brass Plates?  Of course, that would assume that Joseph Smith was working from a King James Bible to make the "update," a notion that even critical historians such as Metcalfe have rejected.

While I do not know the full implications of borrowing as it relates to Deutero-Isaiah, it casts Bokovoy's mysterious new paper in a very tenuous light.  Because there is notably no Trito-Isaiah text in the BoM, Bokovoy must rely on common elements and themes.  For that paper to be meaningful, it is not enough to show Trito-Isaiah elements and themes throughout the BoM.  Rather, Bokovoy and his padawan have the unenviable task to show that they are not only material parallels, but wholly unique (and not borrowed) from pre-Exilic literature.  If any of those elements exist in older biblical literature, then Bokovoy is going to have a hard time showing that the older biblical literature is not the common borrowed source.  Good luck showing that uniqueness to the post-Exilic world.

I'd be interesting in writing a joint response to Bokovoy's paper along these lines with one of our more distinguished members, if interested.

I'm hardly suited for that but I would love to see you do it. 

Townsend's argument, as he's put if forward, is that Trito-Isaiah's influence extends beyond the traditional Trito-Isaiah chapters, that he also edited and left his mark on Deutero-Isaiah. Of course, if such is the case, and if even Deutero-Isaiah was borrowing from older literature, then I think the whole thing kind of collapses into a "corpus of Isaianic-school texts continually updated and refined over time", and God saw fit to include the finished product in the completed Book of Mormon. It's like Hugh Nibley's old argument that the mortal Christ did not quote some early urtext, but the Septuagint, at least as recorded in the Gospels. If God views scripture as equally inspired along its production path, then it makes sense that He would want the updated version in his scriptures. 

Also, to borrow from Michael Austin: if it comes down to it, we hold that God could reveal the name of Cyrus to Isaiah and thus it's mere presence is not sufficient evidence for Deutero-Isaiah (note that I'm not saying that Deutero-Isaiah derives wholly from Cyrus's inclusion, I'm just saying that that has been one scholarly argument which we believers don't feel has much weight.) The God who could tell Isaiah about Cyrus could tell Nephi about Deutero-Isaiah. 

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2 hours ago, PacMan said:

I think it tremendously unfair to place Barker in a crack-pot category simply because she disagrees with 80% of other academics, including Bokovoy.  Are there scholarly reasons to accept post-Exilic Deutro-Isaiah?  Certainly.  But it seems absolutely clear that there are competent theories to disagree.  I've never seen Bokovoy give much attention or acknowledgment to these explanations.

So, a few things.

  • Most scholars believe Deutero-Isaiah was composed (or at least begun) during the Babylonian exile, not after it.
  • I doubt very much that 20% of OT scholars believe Isaiah 40–66 was written in the 8th century BCE. Maybe 2%.
  • Margaret Barker accepts an exilic origin for Deutero-Isaiah. In her commentary, she writes: "the early oracles of Deutero-Isaiah can be dated between 550 BC, when Cyrus defeated the Medes in battle, and 539, when he conquered Babylon." (Margaret Barker, "Isaiah," Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible, 524). 
Edited by Nevo
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31 minutes ago, Nevo said:

So, a few things.

  • Most scholars believe Deutero-Isaiah was composed (or at least begun) during the Babylonian exile, not after it.
  • I doubt very much that 20% of OT scholars believe Isaiah 40–66 was written in the 8th century BCE. Maybe 2%.
  • Margaret Barker accepts an exilic origin for Deutero-Isaiah. In her commentary, she writes: "the early oracles of Deutero-Isaiah can be dated between 550 BC, when Cyrus defeated the Medes in battle, and 539, when he conquered Babylon." (Margaret Barker, "Isaiah," Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible, 524). 

1. Sorry...I meant post-Exilic meaning the point after going into exile (not after having concluded their exile).  Better said, post-pre Exilic (???).  Admittedly not precise.  But you get the point.

2. I'm not making up the 20% number, but I can't remember where I found it.  If you have a citation for the 2% number, please share it.  Otherwise, don't purposefully make up garbage.  Who knows what else you're making up.

3. As Kevin pointed out, that's not complete.  Barker helps some, but not all, of the Deutero-Isaiah issue in the BoM.  So say it simply: do you and Bokovoy agree with her analysis of the Fourth Servant Song?

But stop being evasive: Do you agree that Bokovoy's forthcoming analysis of Trito Isaiah and the BoM have real issues in light of biblical borrowing?  Frankly, once those two see my post (and I have reason to believe they have), I'd be surprised if they even publish their forthcoming article.  It's literally a waste of time because the parallels they identify aren't going to amount to a hill of beans.

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16 minutes ago, PacMan said:

But stop being evasive: Do you agree that Bokovoy's forthcoming analysis of Trito Isaiah and the BoM have real issues in light of biblical borrowing? 

LOL. Do I agree that Bokovoy's forthcoming analysis "have [sic] real issues"? No, sorry. I haven't read it yet. No one has.

16 minutes ago, PacMan said:

Frankly, once those two see my post (and I have reason to believe they have), I'd be surprised if they even publish their forthcoming article.  It's literally a waste of time because the parallels they identify aren't going to amount to a hill of beans.

If you say so 😄

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2 hours ago, PacMan said:

2. I'm not making up the 20% number, but I can't remember where I found it.  If you have a citation for the 2% number, please share it.  Otherwise, don't purposefully make up garbage.  Who knows what else you're making up.

If you think my offhand guess is "garbage," then feel free to refute it. If 20 percent of Old Testament scholars today hold that Isaiah 40-66 was written in the eighth-century, you should be able to provide a long list of names. I've only been able to identify 2 or 3 scholars that have argued for this view in the last 25 years.

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