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Adam Clarke Bible Commentary Influence in the Book of Mormon?


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I loved canoeing except for the day we were practicing tip overs and I came up next to a dead fish. 

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7 hours ago, Bob Crockett said:

I am liked my PE courses at BYU.  Acrobatic skiing was one.  

 

5 hours ago, Calm said:

I loved canoeing except for the day we were practicing tip overs and I came up next to a dead fish. 

Adventurous you two!

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12 hours ago, Daniel Peterson said:

With all due respect, it's a nonsensical point:  "I know Chinese, and their Chinese stinks."  "Have you ever heard them speak Chinese or read anything that they've written in Chinese?"  "No."  "Have you ever read anything that they've translated from Chinese?"  "No."  "Do you actually know anything at all about their Chinese?"  "No."  "And yet you know that their Chinese stinks?"  "Yup.  You got my point."

What are your feelings on the elementary schools teaching Chinese? I was at one the other day. 

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On 10/10/2020 at 9:48 AM, Tacenda said:

What are your feelings on the elementary schools teaching Chinese? I was at one the other day. 

I think any effort to introduce Chinese to American students is a great idea.  I served my mission in Taiwan, and acquired a great affection for that language.  But boy, it's a toughie.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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Kent P. Jackson has weighed in a bit more on the theory about Adam Clarke's Commentary:

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Recently it was suggested that Joseph Smith, in making his Bible revision, drew ideas from a commentary written by British scholar Adam Clarke. You disagree. Why? 

Kent P. Jackson: This suggestion was made by BYU Professor Thomas Wayment in an effort to explain some of the changes Joseph Smith made. I have examined the same material, and I don’t believe that there is any evidence at all that Joseph Smith drew ideas from Clarke’s Bible commentary. 

Wayment and his student research assistant, Haley Wilson-Lemmon, compared the revisions Joseph Smith made with various commentaries that were current in his day. They found what they believed were convergences between the JST and words in Clarke’s commentary.

Clarke’s commentary is massive, consisting of six volumes and about 5,200 pages. I haven’t counted pages in the other contemporary commentaries, but I doubt that there were any as big as Clarke’s. His was the most philological of the commentaries, meaning that it had a greater emphasis on the text, its words, and word meanings. 

Clarke included some sermonizing, but most of what he wrote had to do with the meaning of the words in the text. As a result, his commentary is full of paraphrases, restatements, and wordy discussions, some of which include words that bear resemblances to revisions Joseph Smith made to the biblical text. 

Wayment has interpreted those as examples of Joseph Smith borrowing ideas or words from Clarke, but that’s not what they are, in my opinion. They’re random and coincidental resemblances, mostly of unimportant words. 

How did you first react to Wayment’s research, and how did you come to conclude that there is no JST-Adam Clarke connection? 

Kent P. Jackson: Wayment first told me about his conclusions in 2016. I was excited about the matter. 

I don’t find anything wrong with the idea that Joseph Smith may have learned something from a non-revelatory source and then used what he learned in making JST revisions. If, for example, he learned from some book or sermon that the KJV word conversation means “conduct,” it makes sense that he would want to replace the archaic word with the modern one, as he did a few times in the JST.

Doing that would take nothing away from his prophetic gifts, and it would be a wise thing to do. 

Wayment’s theory goes beyond that. He believes that Joseph Smith systematically consulted Clarke along the way. I wouldn’t have a problem with that either, if that had happened. But I don’t believe that happened.

Early in 2019 I was doing some JST research and wanted to look at the Adam Clarke theory myself, still having no reason to doubt it. I looked at some examples that Wayment had provided and checked them carefully against Clarke’s commentary. I slowly came to the conclusion that all of the convergences Wayment suggested could be explained better in other ways.

When Wayment’s two articles came out in the summer of 2020, he proposed about 30 passages that he believed were influenced by Clarke’s writing. I looked at each individual case carefully and concluded that none of them came from Clarke. Many of the revisions he and his coauthor proposed were changes the Prophet had already made prior to arriving at the passages in Clarke that they believe influenced the change. Most of the passages they believe were influenced by Clarke reflect instead the Prophet’s demonstrable translation patterns that are seen in many of his revisions. These include his aversion to the italics in the King James translation and his sensitivity toward passages that appear to be doctrinally or historically incorrect.

Joseph Smith didn’t need Adam Clarke to influence him in passages like those. In addition, a lot of the revisions the Prophet made in the Bible are common-sense rewordings that anyone may have wanted to make. He could see as well as anyone else where the KJV’s wording was awkward or unhelpful, and it was in many such places that he made changes.

That Clarke suggested some of the same revisions is coincidental. 

The coauthor of one of Wayment’s articles has accused Joseph Smith of “plagiarism.” What are the grounds of this charge, and what is your reaction to it? 

Kent P. Jackson: In researching the JST and coming to believe that it includes influences from Adam Clarke’s commentary, Professor Wayment was doing what scholars do—establishing a hypothesis, testing it, and drawing conclusions about it. It is obviously not uncommon for scholars to have different opinions, as he and I do about this matter. 

But his views on this topic have been have been overshadowed by the fact that his coauthor, Haley Wilson-Lemmon, has been claiming that the research shows that Joseph Smith “plagiarized” from Clarke. 

Wayment hasn’t made this claim, she has. 

Even if their theory were true, this wouldn’t be “plagiarism,” because the convergences they propose amount mostly to isolated words and vague resemblances. At best they could say that Joseph Smith was occasionally influenced by things Clarke wrote, though I don’t believe it. 

The charge of “plagiarism” comes from interviews Wilson-Lemmon has done with aggressive critics of the Church, who have used her and put words into her mouth for their own purposes. She has willingly acquiesced. She famously left the Church and has used the Adam Clarke idea as a means of advertising her disaffection. This has made her a minor celebrity among anti-Mormons, and it has brought the Adam Clarke notion into the mix as evidence that Joseph Smith was a fraud.

I find all of this to be intellectually dishonest, but this is the kind of thing that many critics of the Church do.

But I also find Wilson-Lemmon’s actions to be profoundly unfair and disloyal to Wayment.

He invited her to work on his project, he gave her the opportunity to coauthor an academic article with him, and I suspect he wrote good recommendations for her to help her get into graduate school. Wayment didn’t need to let her coauthor the article. She was his student assistant, he paid her for her research, and he could have written and published the article himself. She repaid his kindness by sabotaging the narrative about his research.

Was your recent article in Interpreter an effort to counter the plagiarism claim? 

Kent P. Jackson: Not at all. When I started examining the Adam Clarke theory, I had no idea about the backstory regarding Wayment’s coauthor. I found out about her departure from the Church after I had begun examining some of the passages in which she and Wayment attributed influence to Clarke.

My article doesn’t mention the “plagiarism” claim at all, nor Wilson-Lemmon’s situation. In the article I discuss each of the JST revisions that they attribute to Clarke. Discussing each one separately makes the article unfortunately longer than I had wanted. Interpreter is a responsible journal that publishes excellent articles. Their editors and reviewers were terrific to work with, and they did an excellent job. 

Interpreter often publishes apologetic material, that is, material that has its intent to defend the faith against criticisms. I have had readers congratulate me on doing good apologetic work in my article, but because I don’t view the Adam Clarke thesis to be necessarily an attack on the Church, I don’t view my article as apologetic. It’s simply an article that examines some ideas.

I suppose, though, that Wilson-Lemmon’s “plagiarism” claim changes all that and puts my article in the category of an apologetic response. 

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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4 hours ago, smac97 said:

re changes the Prophet had already made prior to arriving at the passages in Clarke that they believe influenced the change.

How does Jackson know this out of curiosity?

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5 hours ago, smac97 said:

Kent P. Jackson has weighed in a bit more on the theory about Adam Clarke's Commentary: (edited to add: https://www.fromthedesk.org/10-questions-kent-jackson/)

While I like Kent P. Jackson's views more, this take is not necessarily mutually exclusive: https://nauvooneighbor.org/2020/11/19/does-revelation-need-to-be-original/

 

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4 hours ago, Nofear said:

While I like Kent P. Jackson's views more, this take is not necessarily mutually exclusive: https://nauvooneighbor.org/2020/11/19/does-revelation-need-to-be-original/

Yes, I agree with both sentiments.  There is, for lack of a better term, a "ratification" function held by the Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  Look at the New Testament, virtually all of which was written by someone other than the "presiding high priest" (Jesus Christ during his mortal ministry and, later, Peter).  And yet we accept these writings as scripture because they have been "ratified" by the presiding councils in this dispensation (and accepted by the body of the Church).

I believe that revelation can come directly to the prophet, but it can also come to another, and then be ratified by the prophet.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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4 hours ago, Calm said:

How does Jackson know this out of curiosity?

I think Jackson is referring to instances where the same (or a similar) type of textual emendation highlighted by Wayment and Wilson-Lemmon was used by Joseph Smith in preceding verses. Here is an example from Jackson's article:

Quote

Exodus 11:949

KJV: Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you

JST: Pharaoh will not hearken unto you

For linguistic reasons, Adam Clarke criticized the King James translators for their use of “shall” here instead of “will.”50

Wayment and Wilson-Lemmon suggest that Joseph Smith followed Clarke in making this change, but there is no reason to think that this is the case. The manuscripts show that the Prophet dictated both “shall” and “will” when revising texts. Prior to arriving at this verse, he had already changed “shall” to “will” in several places, including Genesis 23:9, Romans 3:30, and Revelation 19:15. In a passage similar to the one [Page 29]here, he had already changed “he shall not let the people go” to “he will not let the people go” (Exodus 4:21). In a passage identical to this one, he had already changed “Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you” to “Pharaoh will not hearken unto you” (Exodus 7:4). Clarke suggested none of those changes, and thus, because Joseph Smith made them prior to arriving at Exodus 11, the connection that Wayment and Wilson-Lemmon make with Clarke is unfounded.

The Prophet made other significant changes in this verse and in surrounding verses, but Clarke’s commentary cannot explain any of them. This is something we shall see repeatedly.

Jackson, of course, knows this because of his familiarity with the Bible revision manuscripts: 

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/the-papers/revelations-and-translations/jsppr5

 

Edited by Ryan Dahle
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There are different currents to take into account when considering shall and will usage. One is historical usage. Shall was a more common future tense marker in Early Modern English. It was a neutral marker of the future more often than will, which could indicate will or refusal (in the negative). These modal auxiliaries could also convey other nuanced meanings. For example, shall could convey 'is/are appointed to' or 'is/are to'. Will could convey insistence or determination. In addition, will was dominant in biblical language with first person pronouns, and shall with the other pronouns.

So for the King James translators, did shall convey inevitability in this case? Perhaps, or perhaps it was merely a neutral future tense marker. Inevitability might have been what it conveyed to Clarke in his time. By JS's time, will had become the more common neutral future tense marker. JS's earliest writings (11 short texts) show a preference for will over shall of 79 to 33 (screening out some biblical usage). That might explain this and other editing, as a natural shifting from the early modern default shall to the late modern default will.

We can see the shift over time in English by tracking "there shall" and "there will" in the Ngram Viewer. These bigrams are useful to consider since an existential construction eliminates or reduces the odds of nuanced meaning. The King James Bible has 215 instances of the former and only 16 of the latter. The Book of Mormon is similar in its usage breakdown, 54 to 3 (nonbiblical sections). In a group of 25 pseudobiblical / pseudo-archaic texts I've collected, the ratio is 18 to 11, but one standout text by a Shakespearean scholar is 10 to 3, which means the others don't have many instances and split usage 8 to 8.

Once again, it looks like the Book of Mormon presents us with an archaic, non-JS pattern in its "there shall/will" usage. Pseudobiblical texts tend to show that shall/will usage with pronouns was more manipulable than other kinds of usage, but perhaps "there shall/will" was less so. I haven't looked into that. In any event, "there shall/will" works as another indicator of actual archaism as long as it has support from other syntactic domains in the text, which it does.

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