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Adam Clarke Bible Commentary Influence in the Book of Mormon?


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7 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

That was mentioned a little bit earlier, but thank you for making sure! It purports to be an important article and I'm interested in seeing it.

Thanks, I am not following this thread too closely obviously ;)

 

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25 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Thanks, I am not following this thread too closely obviously ;)

 

I also started a thread on it about 11 hours ago. 

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23 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

Interesting! I'm eager to see this. 

I've read it (as a reviewer at Interpreter) and can promise that your eagerness will be aptly rewarded.

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Edited by Kevin Christensen
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I reviewed Wayment and Wilson-Lemmon's paper In Producing Ancient Scripture. I looked for the type of evidence they saw, and looked at the changes in the Isaiah chapters to find anything similar to those changes that were attributed to Clarke's commentary. I confess I tired of it after 10 or so chapters. I didn't see anything. I checked one of the obvious possibilities, "or out of the waters of baptism" in I Nephi 20:1 (added in 1837), but there is nothing to support in in Clarke. 

I will be interested to see what Colby finds, as I'm sure he is more dedicated to the project than I. If he found 60 out of all of the quotations, that tells me why I tired so quickly. There aren't very many as a proportion of the changes.

One of the things I found interesting in Wayment's samples in the article (he has a larger number than were used as examples) was that they were heavily NT quotations. I wonder if looking in Isaiah was the reason that I didn't see the connections. 

The result of my attempt to verify the use of Clarke in the Book of Mormon didn't find anything, but wasn't comprehensive. I can say that there are numerous changes that do not reflect Clarke and more typically indicate an attempt to clarify the English reading of the verse that was changed. Since it wasn't comprehensive, I must wait for more data to be able to make a judgement.

Edited by Brant Gardner
clarified the time when "the waters of baptism" was added
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  • 1 month later...
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I offer one criticism of the article, at least parts of it. 

One does not explain away plagiarism by pointing to inconsistent texts.  A text can be 100,000 words long, but if a string of nine words is exactly the same and there is proof of access to the prior text, the evidence is there.  

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4 hours ago, Bob Crockett said:

I offer one criticism of the article, at least parts of it. 

One does not explain away plagiarism by pointing to inconsistent texts.  A text can be 100,000 words long, but if a string of nine words is exactly the same and there is proof of access to the prior text, the evidence is there.  

On Edit:

As SMAC has pointed out below you are responding to the Jackson article.

Edited by CA Steve
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1 hour ago, Bob Crockett said:

I offer one criticism of the article, at least parts of it. 

One does not explain away plagiarism by pointing to inconsistent texts.  A text can be 100,000 words long, but if a string of nine words is exactly the same and there is proof of access to the prior text, the evidence is there.  

It seems like those alleging plagiarism have the obligation to establish a prima facie case for said plagiarism.  

Also, Jackson states that "{t}he revisions in the JST that Wayment and Wilson-Lemmon attribute to Clarke’s commentary are almost all small rewordings," that none of the attributed-to-Clarke's-commentary changes "are found in the Book of Moses or in Joseph Smith—Matthew, the two canonized sections of the JST.'"  He later quotes Wayment as stating that "Adam Clarke 'shaped Smith’s Bible revision in fundamental ways,'" but that this "sweeping statement" is "difficult to justify, given the mostly minor rewordings" cited by Wayment.  I think this may be the main takeway.  Wayment's assistant wants us to believe that Joseph Smith cribbed from Adam Clarke's commentary on the Bible during his (Joseph's) work on the JST, and thereafter sought to pass off such revisions/changes as revelation.  But apart from Jackson challenging the overal probative weight of the evidence presented in support of this theory, Jackson is essentially saying that the changes attributed to such purported "cribbing" are overwhelmingly minor, non-substantive changes to the biblical text.  Jackson also notes that there is nothing doctrinally inappropriate in resorting to "best books" when seeking out revelatory guidance.  So not only is the theory not well-evidenced, it wouldn't be particularly significant even if shown to be plausible.

Jackson also argues that "if Joseph Smith borrowed from Adam Clarke, the evidence would be obvious," and that "{t}there would be direct, recognizable uses of distinctive words of Clarke, and there would be a clear and repeated pattern of them," and that such a pattern has not been shown by Wayment.

Also, I am not sure "plagiarism" is an apt term, since it is so obviously loaded.  It connotes a lack of revelation, and the presence of connivance, and also a claim of authorship (which Wayment's assistant is obviously going for).  Jackson addresses this a bit: 

Quote

When I first became aware of the proposed Adam Clarke-Joseph Smith connection, I had no reason not to welcome the discovery. The New Translation begins with dramatic revelations that are now contained in the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price. Throughout the rest of the translation are other blocks of text, large and small, that I believe can only be explained as revelation. In between are a few thousand small changes that are simply rewordings of the language of the King James Version text (KJV) — word changes that correct, modernize, simplify, clarify, or amplify. I doubt that anyone can know if Joseph Smith required individual revelations to make each and every one of those small changes aside from a general divine mandate to make the Bible more doctrinally accurate, more clear, and more usable for the Latter-day Saints. There is no reason to think that in those revisions the Prophet could not have simply used his own common sense where needed, or that he could not have been influenced by printed sources available to him to improve the text. Indeed, three times in revelations (not related to working on the JST) we have references to seeking “words of wisdom” “out of the best books” (D&C 88:118; 109:7, 14). The only question is whether proof exists for that taking place in his revision of the Bible.

I'm coming to agree with Jackson that Wayment (that is, Wayment's assistant) substantially overstates both the significance of and the evidentiary support for this theory.  I'm not inclined to attribute this to Wayment, though.  Wayment's assistant has elsewhere made comments that she was the driver behind this theory (though, as Jackson notes, the "Adam Clarke" theory has been around since at least 1993), that she had lost faith in the Restored Gospel and held the Church and its doctrines in contempt during the time she was involved in this project, and that she is "glad" her work on this matter was "meaningful" to people who thanked her as they "transitioned out of Mormonism" and who found it "helpful" in concluding that "Joseph Smith used {Adam Clarke's commentary} to fabricate his claims {of prophetic revelation}."

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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Funny how we can pick through thousands of years of Abrahamic parallels as evidence of a historical Book of Abraham but direct quotes and changes from a book known to be accessible to Smith are seen as "weak".

By the way, Wayment is not claiming this is plagiarism .

Edited by CA Steve
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Thomas Wayment did an interview on From the Desk with Kurt Manwaring.  I definitely think it is more nuanced and clarified in the transcript than has been attributed to him.  He specifically talks about charges of plagiarism.  I also read Kent Jackson`s article and indeed it is hard to make a case for a great deal of dependence on Adam Clarke.  It is probably fair to say that it influenced It and that there was an academic component to the JST.  Both worth reading.  I have really enjoyed Thomas Wayment`s translation of the New Testament and he seems like a pretty faithful guy.  His assistant at the time obviously is not  Any more and has been pretty vocal about it.  I think that is where the trouble started and the conversations started online.  She seems naive in how far she took the study`s findings.  She was an undergraduate student at the time.  

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9 minutes ago, readstoomuch said:

and he seems like a pretty faithful guy.

He is (was in our ward we divided from last year).

Edited by Calm
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On 8/18/2020 at 8:15 AM, 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?

and yet not a singe person who witnessed the translation ever mentioned this. When exactly did he have time to do this research? Have you been able debunk the many bullseyes that Joseph would not have known about? Can you explain how he knew so much about central american culture? It seems you are grasping at straws with this post. If someone with superpowers shows up in the news, would that prove to debunk the theory that the X-men comics are fictional? It is a silly basis of an argument 

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18 hours ago, CA Steve said:

Funny how we can pick through thousands of years of Abrahamic parallels as evidence of a historical Book of Abraham but direct quotes and changes from a book known to be accessible to Smith are seen as "weak".

By the way, Wayment is not claiming this is plagiarism .

That is concerning, I'd say.  

With that said, it sounds like there is plenty more to say and plenty more to look into.  We might see discussion these matters for years to come.  

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16 hours ago, Freedom said:

and yet not a singe person who witnessed the translation ever mentioned this. When exactly did he have time to do this research? Have you been able debunk the many bullseyes that Joseph would not have known about? Can you explain how he knew so much about central american culture? It seems you are grasping at straws with this post. If someone with superpowers shows up in the news, would that prove to debunk the theory that the X-men comics are fictional? It is a silly basis of an argument 

What is more likely? That Smith borrowed from Adam Clarke (something we already know he did in his Bible translation) or that a miracle took place, something that is a rare if ever occurrence.  I'm comfortable with him borrowing from Clarke...but will defer my final conclusion until I have read the scholarly paper.

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38 minutes ago, Fair Dinkum said:
Quote
Quote

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?

and yet not a singe person who witnessed the translation ever mentioned this. When exactly did he have time to do this research? Have you been able debunk the many bullseyes that Joseph would not have known about? Can you explain how he knew so much about central american culture? It seems you are grasping at straws with this post. If someone with superpowers shows up in the news, would that prove to debunk the theory that the X-men comics are fictional? It is a silly basis of an argument 

What is more likely?

When you are speaking of religious truth claims, how do you define and quantify "likely?"  It seems like "likely" is used as an endlessly-out-of-reach carrot.

So asking "What is more likely" becomes less useful until and unless we first address the presuppositions we bring to the table.  For a secularist who rejects out-of-hand the very existence of God, let alone the idea that He has a personal relationship with and interest in us, that He intervenes in our lives, etc., the one and only and inevitable answer to "what is likely" is "God doesn't exist, ergo there were no angelic visitation leading to Joseph findingauthentically ancient plates and translating them 'by the gift and power of God,'" ergo any naturalistic alternative is the only conceivable answer.

On the other hand, if the interlocutor is open to the possibility that God does exist, that He has a Plan of Salvation for us, that this Plan centers on Jesus Christ, that we discover this Plan through the teachings of prophets and apostles and through personal revelation, then addressing and reconciling the evidence becomes much more interesting.  

38 minutes ago, Fair Dinkum said:

That Smith borrowed from Adam Clarke (something we already know he did in his Bible translation)

I'm not sure we "know" that at all.

38 minutes ago, Fair Dinkum said:

or that a miracle took place, something that is a rare if ever occurrence. 

I think miracles are a lot more common than we think.

38 minutes ago, Fair Dinkum said:

I'm comfortable with him borrowing from Clarke...but will defer my final conclusion until I have read the scholarly paper.

I think "him borrowing from Clarke" in translating the Book of Mormon is difficult to reconcile with the witness statements.  So Freedom raises a fair point.  How do advocates of this theory address the evidentiary issues arising fromt he witness statements?  I look forward to the paper, but I suspect it will elide on past this.

Thanks,

-Smac

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On 10/4/2020 at 9:39 AM, smac97 said:

It seems like those alleging plagiarism have the obligation to establish a prima facie case for said plagiarism.  

Also, Jackson states that "{t}he revisions in the JST that Wayment and Wilson-Lemmon attribute to Clarke’s commentary are almost all small rewordings," that none of the attributed-to-Clarke's-commentary changes "are found in the Book of Moses or in Joseph Smith—Matthew, the two canonized sections of the JST.'"  He later quotes Wayment as stating that "Adam Clarke 'shaped Smith’s Bible revision in fundamental ways,'" but that this "sweeping statement" is "difficult to justify, given the mostly minor rewordings" cited by Wayment.  I think this may be the main takeway.  Wayment's assistant wants us to believe that Joseph Smith cribbed from Adam Clarke's commentary on the Bible during his (Joseph's) work on the JST, and thereafter sought to pass off such revisions/changes as revelation.  But apart from Jackson challenging the overal probative weight of the evidence presented in support of this theory, Jackson is essentially saying that the changes attributed to such purported "cribbing" are overwhelmingly minor, non-substantive changes to the biblical text.  Jackson also notes that there is nothing doctrinally inappropriate in resorting to "best books" when seeking out revelatory guidance.  So not only is the theory not well-evidenced, it wouldn't be particularly significant even if shown to be plausible.

Jackson also argues that "if Joseph Smith borrowed from Adam Clarke, the evidence would be obvious," and that "{t}there would be direct, recognizable uses of distinctive words of Clarke, and there would be a clear and repeated pattern of them," and that such a pattern has not been shown by Wayment.

Also, I am not sure "plagiarism" is an apt term, since it is so obviously loaded.  It connotes a lack of revelation, and the presence of connivance, and also a claim of authorship (which Wayment's assistant is obviously going for).  Jackson addresses this a bit: 

I'm coming to agree with Jackson that Wayment (that is, Wayment's assistant) substantially overstates both the significance of and the evidentiary support for this theory.  I'm not inclined to attribute this to Wayment, though.  Wayment's assistant has elsewhere made comments that she was the driver behind this theory (though, as Jackson notes, the "Adam Clarke" theory has been around since at least 1993), that she had lost faith in the Restored Gospel and held the Church and its doctrines in contempt during the time she was involved in this project, and that she is "glad" her work on this matter was "meaningful" to people who thanked her as they "transitioned out of Mormonism" and who found it "helpful" in concluding that "Joseph Smith used {Adam Clarke's commentary} to fabricate his claims {of prophetic revelation}."

Thanks,

-Smac

In my view, the fact that she has so openly (after the fact) proclaimed her bias taints the credibility of the product. 

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It's like Wayment didn't even participate in the paper. Blame everything on the apostate and dismiss the paper because of that. easy-peasy.

Regardless of what we think of Willson-Lemmon, Wayment's name is on the paper, he is still a very faithful member, (why faith is even part of the discussion shows how much people have to reach to dismiss conclusions they find uncomfortable) and the paper should be discussed on its merits.

 

 

Edited by CA Steve
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I was fascinated by the JST- Adam Clarke connection.  But I am now just disappointed.  Kent P Jackson just completed a diligent  study of  Thomas A. Wayment’s “A Recovered Resource: The Use of Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary in Joseph Smith’s Bible Translation,” co-authored with his former research assistant, Haley Wilson-Lemmon.Some Notes on Joseph Smith 
and Adam Clarke

Here is the abstract, but read or listen to the whole thing.  If Jackson’s peer-review holds up—and I think it will- the Adam Clarke theory is a major embarrassment.

IAbstract: Authors of two recent articles believe they have found evidence that Joseph Smith, in preparing his revision of the Bible, drew ideas from a contemporary Bible commentary by British scholar Adam Clarke. The evidence, however, does not bear out this claim. I believe that none of the examples they provide can be traced to Clarke’s commentary, and almost all of them can be explained easily by other means. The authors do not look at their examples within the broader context of the revisions Joseph Smith made to the Bible, and thus they misinterpret them. Some of the revisions they attribute to Clarke are ones that Joseph Smith had made repeatedly before he arrived at the passages where they believe he got ideas from Clarke. In addition, there is a mountain of material in Clarke that is not reflected in the Joseph Smith Translation, and there is a mountain of material in the Joseph Smith Translation that cannot be explained by reference to Clarke. The few overlaps that do exist are vague, superficial, and coincidental.

 

 

https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/some-notes-on-joseph-smith-and-adam-clarke/

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12 hours ago, Fair Dinkum said:

What is more likely? That Smith borrowed from Adam Clarke (something we already know he did in his Bible translation) or that a miracle took place, something that is a rare if ever occurrence.  I'm comfortable with him borrowing from Clarke...but will defer my final conclusion until I have read the scholarly paper.

What is more likely, that you are creating an argument without evidence in an attempt to discredit a book that you pick at along the edges without being able to challenge the major components or that you have actual evidence to support your argument. It would seem the former. Despite decades of effort, the critics have yet to find a kink in its armor. On the contrary, the more research that unfolds, the more define the book appears to be. 

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3 hours ago, RWinmill said:

 If Jackson’s peer-review holds up—and I think it will- the Adam Clarke theory is a major embarrassment.

I read Kent Jackson's review, and I have to agree with the "major embarrassment" statement (regarding the entire Adam Clarke theory).  Like Jackson, when I first heard about this theory I thought it could be plausible, and I myself found a few minor examples of where it might have been possible that Joseph Smith could have gotten the idea from Clarke's commentary.  But none of what I found would necessitate a reliance on the commentary and the similarities could be explained in other ways.  But after reading Jackson's review I think he has thoroughly proven that the theory has major problems, and in fact I believe Jackson has proven that Joseph Smith couldn't have been using the commentary.

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Kent Jackson's piece is a poorly-written piece.

I know he is retired, but working in the Department of Religion doesn't really provide training or ability to do much of anything. 

He does not directly contrast the JST rendition of the KJV against the Adam Clarke rendition.  It seems he wants to avoid direct comparison.

He claims that Joseph Smith had plenty of other changes in the BIble not explained by Adam Clarke which, as I have observed above, is not proof of anything relevant.

Perhaps his thesis is correct, but I need something other than what he has written to be convinced.

Edited by Bob Crockett
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1 hour ago, Bob Crockett said:

Kent Jackson's piece is a poorly-written piece.

I know he is retired, but working in the Department of Religion doesn't really provide training or ability to do much of anything. 

He does not directly contrast the JST rendition of the KJV against the Adam Clarke rendition.  It seems he wants to avoid direct comparison.

He claims that Joseph Smith had plenty of other changes in the BIble not explained by Adam Clarke which, as I have observed above, is not proof of anything relevant.

Perhaps his thesis is correct, but I need something other than what he has written to be convinced.

So his 33 examples where he compared the JST, the KJV, and the Adam Clarke commentary aren't "directly contrast[ed]"?  Or are you reading something different than I did?

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18 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

In my view, the fact that she has so openly (after the fact) proclaimed her bias taints the credibility of the product. 

Well, I'm happy to look at whatever objective data she produced.  But her interpretation of the data carries little weight with me.

I hope she has a change of heart.

Thanks,

-Smac

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