Jump to content

Adam Clarke Bible Commentary Influence in the Book of Mormon?


Recommended Posts

There is currently a rumor of a scholarly work being undertaken that will soon be published that exposes the influence of Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary in the Book of Mormon. Specifically the Book of Mormon Isaiah chapters. 

Assuming that this supposed scholarly paper is successful in finding such influence, how exactly does one successfully navigate its influence in a record that claims ancient origins?  

Wouldnt its inclusion be further evidence that the Book of Mormon is a 19th century work and not based on an actual history?

Link to post

I think this will be a big reveal for some if shown.  This is why I support not putting too much stock into historicity.  It seems like the march toward a fictional book of mormon is inevitable and remaining on the historicity hill will only mean loss of testimony. 

Link to post
42 minutes ago, Robert J Anderson said:

I think this will be a big reveal for some if shown. 

A lot of things can come across as "a big reveal for some."

42 minutes ago, Robert J Anderson said:

This is why I support not putting too much stock into historicity.  It seems like the march toward a fictional book of mormon is inevitable and remaining on the historicity hill will only mean loss of testimony. 

I have come to nearly the exact opposition conclusion.  See here.

Thanks,

-Smac

  • Like 1
Link to post

We already know Joseph significantly depended on Adam Clarke’s work for the Bible translation.  If Adam Clarke’s influence is found in the Book of Mormon then there could be two reasons 1) the BoM is clearly a 19th century work, 2) Adam Clarke also used a magic rock to gain insight from God.

Link to post
1 hour ago, Fair Dinkum said:

There is currently a rumor of a scholarly work being undertaken that will soon be published that exposes the influence of Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary in the Book of Mormon. Specifically the Book of Mormon Isaiah chapters. 

Assuming that this supposed scholarly paper is successful in finding such influence, how exactly does one successfully navigate its influence in a record that claims ancient origins?  

Wouldnt its inclusion be further evidence that the Book of Mormon is a 19th century work and not based on an actual history?

I believe it's Colby Townsend working on this, right? We'll have to see when it comes out. 

I admit that I have questions about the methodology of such papers. Presumably, influence falls under two categories, word choice and conceptual. Word choice isn't difficult under the view that Joseph was supplying the words to the revelation. Conceptual influence is more thorny but could still be handled under Blake Ostler's Expansion Theory, increasingly a consensus view among faithful scholars. However, I often wonder about the real validity of such attribution. To say that an idea must derive from Clarke or 19th-century sources assumes that we know that it couldn't have been present among the Nephites. It's only fair at this point to acknowledge that we don't know the theological and cultural bounds of the Nephite universe, so any comparison is of necessity incomplete. If the Nephite theological atmosphere was so different from that of the 19th-century as to remove all parallels, the Book of Mormon would convey no useful information and thus be pointless, so it doesn't surprise me that there are parallels. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
30 minutes ago, smac97 said:

It's not really a rumor.  And it's from March 2017.

With study, faith, circumspection, patience, charity, and so on.

Not really.  See the above link.

Thanks,

-Smac

Your link addresses the Adam Clarke commentary in the Bible translation, not the BoM though.  So this is new and different work being done, if true.  

In fact, the link kind of dismisses the idea that he may have done the same for the BoM:

Quote

Some critics may still ask, “What does this mean for Joseph’s other translations? He used a commentary given to him in his other scriptural productions. Couldn’t the same thing happen for the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, or the Doctrine and Covenants?”

First, this is the composition fallacy, which states that it is an error in logic to assume that if something is true of a part it is true of the whole. In this case the critic assumes that if it is true of the Joseph Smith Translation that he relied on someone else’s work in part to produce scripture, then he has to have done it for the rest. Just because something like this takes place for the Joseph Smith Translation, does not mean that he did it for the rest.


 

 

 

Edited by pogi
  • Like 1
Link to post
10 minutes ago, 2BizE said:

We already know Joseph significantly depended on Adam Clarke’s work for the Bible translation.  If Adam Clarke’s influence is found in the Book of Mormon then there could be two reasons 1) the BoM is clearly a 19th century work, 2) Adam Clarke also used a magic rock to gain insight from God.

Either you believe in God or you don't.

After that, magic rocks are nothing.

If you accept that first principle anything after that is no big deal. ;)

And how do you prove the first principle?

You pray.

You certainly don't look to a scientific method unless it's Alma 32.

Alma 32 shows that the scientific method also applies to feelings in your heart, and ethical matters.

It's really very simple.

Edited by mfbukowski
  • Like 3
Link to post
11 minutes ago, 2BizE said:

We already know Joseph significantly depended on Adam Clarke’s work for the Bible translation.  If Adam Clarke’s influence is found in the Book of Mormon then there could be two reasons 1) the BoM is clearly a 19th century work, 2) Adam Clarke also used a magic rock to gain insight from God.

Yuu wish . . .

  • Like 2
Link to post

I find all 5his sort of thing totally hilarious. 
 

At the time of the BoM translation Smith was a young man in his early twenties who had apparently never been to a big city. 
Yet, he had access to so many publications, and took time to read and study them, it’s incredible!  He was influenced, or downright plagiarized so many, that there is hardly an original thought in the BoM. 
 

I remember how I was in my early twenties and even had I been interested, I would not have had access or even stumbled upon as many sources as Smith apparently did.  And I grew up in a cosmopolitan urban area. With libraries and such. 
Smith’s critics are grasping at straws when they keep coming up with stuff like this.

At some point the real members of this forum have to stop feeding the trolls and quit responding to this stuff. 

Edited by mrmarklin
Additional info
  • Like 4
Link to post
2 hours ago, Fair Dinkum said:

There is currently a rumor of a scholarly work being undertaken that will soon be published that exposes the influence of Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary in the Book of Mormon. Specifically the Book of Mormon Isaiah chapters. 

Assuming that this supposed scholarly paper is successful in finding such influence, how exactly does one successfully navigate its influence in a record that claims ancient origins?  

Wouldnt its inclusion be further evidence that the Book of Mormon is a 19th century work and not based on an actual history?

Where did you hear this rumor?

  • Like 2
Link to post
4 minutes ago, mrmarklin said:

I find all 5his sort of thing totally hilarious. 
 

At the time of the BoM translation Smith was a young man in his early twenties who had apparently never been to a big city. 
Yet, he had access to so many publications, and took time to read and study them, it’s incredible!  He was influenced, or downright plagiarized so many, that there is hardly an original thought in the BoM. 
 

I remember how I was in my early twenties and even had I been interested, I would not have had access or even stumbled upon as many sources as Smith apparently did.  And I grew up in a cosmopolitan urban area. With libraries and such. 
Smith’s critics are grasping at straws when they keep coming up with stuff like this.

Joseph wasn't your average person, IMO. How many were a student of languages like him? http://jur.byu.edu/?p=15384

Link to post
4 minutes ago, mrmarklin said:

I find all 5his sort of thing totally hilarious. 
 

At the time of the BoM translation Smith was a young man in his early twenties who had apparently never been to a big city. 
Yet, he had access to so many publications, and took time to read and study them, it’s incredible!  He was influenced, or downright plagiarized so many, that there is hardly an original thought in the BoM. 
 

I remember how I was in my early twenties and even had I been interested, I would not have had access or even stumbled upon as many sources as Smith apparently did.  And I grew up in a cosmopolitan urban area. With libraries and such. 
Smith’s critics are grasping at straws when they keep coming up with stuff like this.

In fairness, recent research at BYU has demonstrated that Joseph Smith consulted the Clarke commentary while making certain emendations to the JST. So we know that he used it. It was a very common text for those who wanted to understand the Bible so it's not like it was some piece of exotica that he would have had to trek across continents to find.

Though I do admit, one of the reasons why I generally find Grunder-style "parallel" arguments to be unpersuasive is because there are just so many of them. You can draw parallels to the Book of Mormon to so many places that it starts to get reminiscent of Syndrome from The Incredibles:

If everything's a parallel...nothing is. 

  • Like 4
Link to post
1 minute ago, Tacenda said:

Joseph wasn't your average person, IMO. How many were a student of languages like him? http://jur.byu.edu/?p=15384

Most Biblical scholars, tbh. The source you cite says that he never really got proficient in any of these languages, though he did study them, particularly the aspects that would have made them relevant for his ministry. Pretty much any biblical scholar worth their salt has to be proficient with Greek or Hebrew, depending on which part they want to specialize in, and frequently they're proficient in both. Per the paper you cited, Joseph certainly had an interest in acquiring languages, but he wasn't a particular savant about it. 

His access to Clarke is a moot point, as we already know he used it. But Joseph, even later in life, did not live his life in a library. 

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
6 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

That's only if you assert that his transcribers helped with the production of the text, which must be asserted independent of and in opposition to the witness testimony and historical evidence from the area. It's a position born of theoretical necessity, not evidentiary support. 

I believe wholeheartedly, see my edited post, that Oliver Cowdery was a transcriber and helped him. He knew Joseph Smith a year or so before starting the BoM translation.

Link to post
44 minutes ago, pogi said:

Your link addresses the Adam Clarke commentary in the Bible translation, not the BoM though.  So this is new and different work being done, if true.  

Well, yes and no.  From the link (a quote from Prof. Wayment) :

Quote

To the best of my understanding, Joseph Smith used Adam Clarke as a Bible commentary to guide his mind and thought process to consider the Bible in ways that he wouldn’t have been able to do so otherwise. It may be strong to say, but Joseph didn’t have training in ancient languages or the history of the Bible, but Adam Clarke did. And Joseph appears to have appreciated Clarke’s expertise and in using Clarke as a source, Joseph at times adopted the language of that source as he revised the Bible. I think that those who are troubled by this process are largely troubled because it contradicts a certain constructed narrative about the history of the JST and about how revelation works.

The reality of what happened is inspiring.

Joseph, who applied his own prophetic authority to the Bible in the revision process, drew upon the best available scholarship to guide his prophetic instincts. Inspiration following careful study and consideration is a prophetic model that can include many members of the church.
I hope people who read the study when it comes out will pause long enough to consider the benefit of expanding the definition of the prophetic gift to include academic study as a key component before rejecting the evidence outright.

And here (commentary from FAIR) :

Quote

Some critics may still ask, “What does this mean for Joseph’s other translations? He used a commentary given to him in his other scriptural productions. Couldn’t the same thing happen for the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, or the Doctrine and Covenants?”

First, this is the composition fallacy, which states that it is an error in logic to assume that if something is true of a part it is true of the whole. In this case the critic assumes that if it is true of the Joseph Smith Translation that he relied on someone else’s work in part to produce scripture, then he has to have done it for the rest. Just because something like this takes place for the Joseph Smith Translation, does not mean that he did it for the rest.

Additionally, this is not a simple act of plagiarism. Joseph was in control of the project for most of the time and only referred to Clarke for a fraction of the revisions he made.

Finally, as Professor Wayment has elaborated, it can provide a framework through which we may approach revelation--through study and faith. This nexus of study and faith is something that the prophet emphasized at several times in his career (Doctrine and Covenants 9:7-9; 88:77-79, 118). This does not mean that this was the process of composition for all of his scriptural productions, only that there is nothing wrong with him approaching this particular project in this way.

Nevertheless, you raise a fair point.  Emma was insistent that Joseph did not use any other materials.  See, e.g., here:

Quote

Fourth, we marvel that the Prophet Joseph Smith worked completely without referring to any other sources. None of the 12 people who either participated or merely observed mentioned Joseph’s having any reference materials present. (The 12 people were Emma Smith, Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, Elizabeth Ann Whitmer Cowdery, David Whitmer, William Smith, Lucy Mack Smith, Michael Morse, Sarah Hellor Conrad, Isaac Hale, Reuben Hale, and Joseph Knight Sr.) Since the Prophet dictated openly, these individuals would have been aware of any suspicious behavior or procedures. Emma was emphatic on this very point: “He had neither manuscript nor book to read from, {and{ if he had anything of the kind he could not have concealed it from me” (“Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” 289, 290).

And here:

Quote

In 1856, Emma recalled that Joseph dictated the translation to her word for word, spelled out the proper names, and would correct her scribal errors even though he could not see what she had written. 

And here:

Quote

Some Mormon scholars believe that the passages in the Book of Mormon which match, for the most part, the wording of similar passages in the King James Bible, indicate that Joseph Smith simply used the wording from the Bible as he dictated. If this is the case, he clearly received that wording as part of the revelatory process, since the witnesses confirm that there was no book or Bible present at the time. For more information see Ensign (Sept. 1977): "If his translation was essentially the same as that of the King James version, he apparently quoted the verse from the Bible"

And here (Jeff Lindsay) :

Quote

Many people have proposed theories for how Joseph did the translation of the Book of Mormon, or more specifically, the dictation of the text. Given the similarities between the KJV text and the Book of Mormon, it has been natural for people, myself included, to assume that there must have been direct usage of the Bible at least for the longer quoted passages. But upon further reflection, my previous assumptions don't really fit what we now know about the translation. Here are some key points:

1. The translation took place with a high degree of transparency. Participants and visitors were able to observe the work taking place. Dr. Royal Skousen emphasizes this point in his review of the witnesses to the translation in his recently recorded presentation at a Mormon Interpreter forum.

2. Not a single observer indicates anything other than direct dictation from Joseph. They raise no hint of any possibility of a manuscript that he was reading from, hidden, say, in the dark recesses at the bottom of his hat as he gazed at the seer stone. Even a cheat sheet hidden in the hat would be of little use.

3. Nobody reported that he was using a Bible in any way for the frequent passages based on the KJV. It was just straight dictation, as far as we know.

4. While there would be no shame in using a Bible to reduce the work burden and the possibility of copying errors for those passages that are explicitly quoted from the Old Testament, such as entire chapters of Isaiah, the possibility of using a Bible or any other book is contrary to witness observations, and was explicitly denied by Emma, as she described some of her early work as a scribe:

Q — [Joseph Smith III]. What is the truth of Mormonism?
A — [Emma]. I know Mormonism to be the truth; and believe the church to have been established by divine direction. I have complete faith in it. In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.
Q —. Had he not a book or manuscript from which he read, or dictated to you?
A —. He had neither manuscript or book to read from.
Q —. Could he not have had, and you not know it?
A. — If he had anything of the kind he could not have concealed it from me.
Q. — Could not father have dictated the Book of Mormon to you, Oliver Cowdery and the others who wrote for him, after having first written it, or having first read it out of some book?
A. — Joseph Smith could neither write nor dictate a coherent and wellworded letter; let alone dictating a book like the Book of Mormon. And, though I was an active participant in the scenes that transpired, . . . it is marvelous to me, “a marvel and a wonder,” as much so as to any one else. (Edmund C. Briggs, “A Visit to Nauvoo in 1856,” Journal of History (Jan. 1916): 454; cited in Russell M. Nelson, "A Treasured Testament," Ensign 23 no. 7 (July 1993), 62.)

5. While many KJV verses are present verbatim, there are also frequent modifications, some subtle but profound. For example, the change of a "that" to a "when" in Isaiah 2:2 as quoted in 2 Nephi 12:2 introduces an apparent unnecessary error in English, but upon further inspection, it may be a beautiful example of a Hebraism (of a sort found in a variety of other places in the Book of Mormon) that actually enhances the significance of Isaiah 2:2 as applied to the context of the Restoration. It's the deep and subtle "mistake" that might suggest advanced Hebrew skills from its author, or yet another brilliantly lucky blunder from Joseph. See "Was Joseph Smith Smarter Than the Average Fourth Year Hebrew Student? Finding a Restoration-Significant Hebraism in Book of Mormon Isaiah" by Paul Y. Hoskisson in Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (MormonInterpreter.com). There are many "errors" of this sort which can be readily dismissed as an error by those with eyes tuned to faults, but which can be sources of enhanced understanding and respect for those who are willing to look and see further.

6. Some of the alleged mistakes from the KJV that have entered into the Book of Mormon text are not necessarily errors, or if errors, may have been introduced by scribes rather than from revelation. This may be the case for the Red Sea questions, both with the introduction of "Red" in the quotation of Isaiah 9:1 (see also FairMormon on this issue), and in the Red Sea versus Reed Sea debate). I'll discuss this more fully in an upcoming post, "Feeling Blue Over the Red Sea?"

7. The Bible-related passages are not due to simple lifting of KJV text. Again, there are many subtle differences, and not just in the passages rendered in italics in many KJV printings. So what was the process in applying KJV language to the Book of Mormon?

8. In addition to the evidence from witnesses, including at least one non-LDS witness, of a translation process that precluded the use of any text or book for the dictated text that was given at a prodigious rate, the allegation of Joseph's direct use of a KJV Bible faces a further impediment: What Bible? There is no evidence that Joseph owned one as he was doing the translation, and an important piece of evidence suggesting he did not. After the translation of the Book of Mormon was finished and the typesetting was well underway, he began his work of rendering an "inspired translation" of the Bible by taking an important first step: buying a Bible. Here I quote from a page at FAIRMormon.org:

There is no evidence that Joseph owned a Bible during the Book of Mormon translation

The difficult financial circumstances of Joseph's family during the Book of Mormon translation are well known. There is no evidence that Joseph owned a Bible during the Book of Mormon translation. In fact, Oliver would later purchase a Bible for Joseph, who used it in producing his revision of the Bible (which became known as the Joseph Smith Translation). This purchase occurred on 8 October 1829, from the same printer that was then setting the type for the already-translated Book of Mormon. Why would Joseph, poor as he was, get a Bible if he already owned one?

And here:

Quote

Witnesses testify that Joseph relied on divine assistance in carrying out the translation. As with the Liahona described in the Book of Mormon (see 1 Nephi 16:26–28), all these sacred objects required righteousness and diligence on Joseph’s part in order to provide connectivity with divine inspiration. David Whitmer said that the seer stones worked only when Joseph was “humble and possessed the right feeling towards everyone.” Whitmer remembered a time in June 1829 when Joseph had a “stormy quarrel” with Emma. Still upset about their disagreement, Joseph went upstairs to resume the translation, only to find that “he could not translate a single syllable.” The miraculous nature of the translation required Joseph Smith to be right before God and man; when this was not the case, his divine gift was temporarily withdrawn. Whitmer said Joseph went “out into the orchard and made supplication to Lord {and} was gone about an hour.” He returned to the house, asked Emma for forgiveness, and returned to translating with Oliver Cowdery. The words again began to appear upon the stone.

I'm looking forward to whatever the mystery scholar referenced in by RFM and Townsend is going to produce (see also this, published yesterday).  

However, am I anticipating a paradigm-shifting, earth-shaking discovery?  Honestly, no.  So much of this sort of thing comes down to missing documents, the passage of time, assumptions, extrapolations and inferences, etc.  There is plenty of room for substantial and principled disagreement about the origins of the Book of Mormon.

Thanks,

-Smac

Link to post
36 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

Which Joseph Smith? Senior, or Junior?

Let's look at the Wikipedia article you cited. 

Cowdery met Joseph Smith Jr. two days before he started scribing for him. That was a year and a day before the formal founding of the Church on April 6, 1830. But, of course, the Book of Mormon was already done by then.

For Cowdery to have contributed he would have to have been working on a manuscript independent from Joseph Smith Jr., who was in Harmony, PA that whole time. No evidence exists that they collaborated. Unless, of course, you think Cowdery and Smith cooked up the whole thing on the fly, which represents significant problems on its own and contrasts with the manuscript evidence.

When I read the below, I guess my mind's eye sees it as a jumping point to realizing that Oliver may have done research beforehand. He was a member of Ethan Smith's church. And had even told Joseph that he had seen the golden plates in a vision before they met. Maybe he could have contributed. 

ETA: https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/knowhy/how-important-was-oliver-cowdery-in-bringing-forth-the-book-of-mormon This is an interesting article.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Cowdery Snippets:

Cowdery met Joseph Smith on April 5, 1829—a year and a day before the official founding of the church—and heard from him how he had received golden plates containing ancient Native American writings.[8] Cowdery told Smith that he had seen the golden plates in a vision before the two ever met.[9]

In 1834 and 1835, with the help of Smith, Cowdery published a contribution to an anticipated "full history of the rise of the church of Latter Day Saints" as a series of articles in the church's Messenger and Advocate. His version was not entirely congruent with the later official history of the church.[17] For instance, Cowdery ignored the First Vision but described an angel (rather than God or Jesus) who called Smith to his work in September 1823. He placed the religious revival that inspired Smith in 1823 (rather than 1820) and stated that this revival experience had caused Smith to pray in his bedroom (rather than the woods of the official history).[18] Further, after first asserting that the revival had occurred in 1821, when Smith was in his "fifteenth year," Cowdery corrected the date to 1823 and stated that it was in Smith's 17th year (though 1823 was actually Smith's 18th year).[1

Those who doubt the miraculous origin theory of the Book of Mormon have speculated that Cowdery may have played a role in the work's composition. Latter-day Saint scholar Daniel Peterson, however, has noted that the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon seems to corroborate Smith's story in that it was in its majority dictated to Cowdery, with aural errors in it; and the Printer's Manuscript, in which Cowdery participated in producing, contains copyist errors with his calligraphy, rendering him unlikely of being aware of the content beforehand.[38]

Speculation of pre-1829 connection between Cowdery and Smith[edit]

Cowdery was a third cousin of Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph Smith's mother.[39] There is also a geographical connection between the Smiths and the Cowderys. During the 1790s, both Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith, and two of Cowdery's relatives were living in Tunbridge, Vermont.[citation needed]

Cowdery and View of the Hebrews[edit]

See also: View of the Hebrews

For several years, Cowdery and his family attended the Congregational Church in Poultney, Vermont, when its minister was the Rev. Ethan Smith, author of View of the Hebrews, an 1823 book suggesting that Native Americans were of Hebrew origin, a not uncommon speculation during the colonial and early national periods.[44][45] In 2000, David Persuitte argued that Cowdery's knowledge of View of the Hebrews significantly contributed to the final version of the Book of Mormon,[46] a connection first suggested as early as 1902.[47] Fawn Brodie wrote that it "may never be proved that Joseph saw View of the Hebrews before writing the Book of Mormon, but the striking parallelisms between the two books hardly leave a case for mere coincidence."[48] Richard Bushman and John W. Welch reject the connection and argue that there is little relationship between the contents of the two books.[49]

 

Edited by Tacenda
Link to post
1 hour ago, 2BizE said:

We already know Joseph significantly depended on Adam Clarke’s work for the Bible translation.  

Well, not really.  Prof. Wayment has commented on the scope of this.

1 hour ago, 2BizE said:

If Adam Clarke’s influence is found in the Book of Mormon then there could be two reasons 1) the BoM is clearly a 19th century work, 2) Adam Clarke also used a magic rock to gain insight from God.

Those are the only two possible explanations?  Are you sure?

Thanks,

-Smac

Link to post

Always grasping. OC was not particularly Over educated even by the standards of the day. It wasn’t until many years later that he would become a lawyer. 

Link to post
Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

 

The rumored research has not even been reported (if it is even being done), and you guys are already imagining its conclusions.  That's not what scholars do.  It is, however, a polemic ploy devoid of ethical or intellectual claim.

Indeed, whatever the conclusions of whatever research, most people will be completely unaware of it, and go about their lives as normal.  You guys need to find your way out of the monomaniacal fever swamp you have created.

You are correct. Nothing may come of this but as to your other point “you guys” imagining it’s conclusions.  I can’t speak for Robert Anderson, but I merely asked a question based on an assumption 

Quote

Assuming that this supposed scholarly paper is successful in finding such influence, how exactly does one successfully navigate its influence in a record that claims ancient origins?  

No conclusion have been drawn, at least not by me.

As to your assertion of my...”having to find [my] way out of the monomaniacal fever swamp you have created.”  You have a fixation for creating strawmen that you can then knock down.  Remember. You and I are on the same team. We both seek truth, at least I hope that is the team you are on.

Edited by Fair Dinkum
Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...