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Did Joseph Smith Really Draw on Adam Clarke's Commentary for the Joseph Smith Translation?


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Many here are aware of an article by Thomas Wayment of BYU that posits that Joseph Smith drew upon British scholar Adam Clarke’s Bible commentary in developing his inspired translation of the Bible. Now, a forthcoming article by another BYU scholar, Kent P. Jackson, challenges that conclusion. The article will appear in Interpreter, as noted in this link:

https://interpreterfoundation.org/jackson-article-preview-did-joseph-smith-use-adam-clarke/

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Another reason to be frustrated over our recent ward boundary change. Less chance to as Brother Wayment his thoughts on this. 

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1 hour ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Many here are aware of an article by Thomas Wayment of BYU that posits that Joseph Smith drew upon British scholar Adam Clarke’s Bible commentary in developing his inspired translation of the Bible. Now, a forthcoming article by another BYU scholar, Kent P. Jackson, challenges that conclusion. The article will appear in Interpreter, as noted in this link:

https://interpreterfoundation.org/jackson-article-preview-did-joseph-smith-use-adam-clarke/

Thomas Wayment also did the latest podcast from LDS Perspectives Podcasts on this topic (here).  I haven't read it or listened to it yet (I'm trying to save it for my road trip next week, but I'm not sure if I can wait).  But here is the transcript.

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11 hours ago, Calm said:

Another reason to be frustrated over our recent ward boundary change. Less chance to as Brother Wayment his thoughts on this. 

Sounds like you might know which ward he is in and may be able to "visit" that ward when you know he will be giving a talk.

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On 8/19/2020 at 2:53 AM, Scott Lloyd said:

Many here are aware of an article by Thomas Wayment of BYU that posits that Joseph Smith drew upon British scholar Adam Clarke’s Bible commentary in developing his inspired translation of the Bible. Now, a forthcoming article by another BYU scholar, Kent P. Jackson, challenges that conclusion. The article will appear in Interpreter, as noted in this link:

https://interpreterfoundation.org/jackson-article-preview-did-joseph-smith-use-adam-clarke/

What if he did, both the Bible and Book of Mormon have quotes and Prophecies that are clearly cross reference to other Prophets, eg Isaiah is extensively quoted in the Book of Mormon, does that constitute an act of deceit , if that is what is being implied.

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Jackson, a prolific scholar of the Joseph Smith Translation history and manuscripts, looks at the proposed examples of borrowing within the broader context of the revisions Joseph Smith made to the Bible. As one example of Jackson’s findings, he discovered that some of the revisions that are attributed to the influence of Clarke are identical to ones that Joseph Smith had already made repeatedly in earlier portions of the Bible, all without reference to Clarke. He states that Wayment did not examine the revisions in the context of Joseph Smith’s other revisions, thus missing important clues within the Joseph Smith Translation itself. In addition, he observes that there is a significant amount of material in Clarke that is not reflected in the Joseph Smith Translation, and there are many revisions in the Joseph Smith Translation that contradict what Clarke wrote in his commentary. Jackson concludes that the few resemblances that do exist are vague, superficial, and coincidental.

The only thing I know published was quite recent and only listed very few of the examples found that appear to be borrowings from Clarke.  I'm curious did Jackson only consider the few examples given in the recent publication, which I think amounted to less than 20, or did he get access to the hundreds they claimed to have identified?  

It only goes to reason that Joseph would pick and choose what he felt was appropriate from Clarke, if he used Clarke.  I don't see how showing some examples that Joseph didn't use, or contradictions would negate their findings.  But we'll see, I guess.  

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6 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

What do we do with prophets quoting one another without attribution?  Which is the original, and is this plagiarism?  There are thousands of such examples.

Micah 2:12 gets quoted in Jer 26:18
Micah 4:1-3 is quoted in Isa 2:2-4

Nahum 1:15 is quoted in Isa 52:7

Not to mention entire chapters quoted (compare Isaiah 36 to 2 Kings 18, Isaiah 37 to 2 Kings 19,  Isaiah 38 to 2 Kings 20:12-19,  Isaiah 39 to 2 Kings 20:12-19, Jeremiah 52:4-34 to 2 Kings 25), but those are the history narrative chapters.

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On 8/20/2020 at 12:12 PM, Robert F. Smith said:

What do we do with prophets quoting one another without attribution?  Which is the original, and is this plagiarism?  There are thousands of such examples.

Micah 2:12 gets quoted in Jer 26:18
Micah 4:1-3 is quoted in Isa 2:2-4

Nahum 1:15 is quoted in Isa 52:7

 

23 hours ago, InCognitus said:

Not to mention entire chapters quoted (compare Isaiah 36 to 2 Kings 18, Isaiah 37 to 2 Kings 19,  Isaiah 38 to 2 Kings 20:12-19,  Isaiah 39 to 2 Kings 20:12-19, Jeremiah 52:4-34 to 2 Kings 25), but those are the history narrative chapters.

If God is the author, how could one or the other of the prophets be accused of plagiarizing what neither could claim proprietorship over?

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43 minutes ago, rockpond said:

I believe the concern is that if the JST was God revealing plain and precious truths that had been lost from the Bible, than Joseph Smith shouldn't be lifting them from another guy's book.

I'd argue that the Prophet can find and discern plain and precious truths from any source.

Indeed. If a mankind had already succeeded in arriving at a truth, why reveal it from on high anew?

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42 minutes ago, rockpond said:

I'd argue that the Prophet can find and discern plain and precious truths from any source.

And, Joseph taught that we should all be doing the same thing.  This is one of my favorite quotes from him:

Quote

Have the Presbyterians any truth? Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, etc., any truth? Yes. They all have a little truth mixed with error. We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true "Mormons."  (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Six 1843–44, p.316)

 

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4 hours ago, rockpond said:

I believe the concern is that if the JST was God revealing plain and precious truths that had been lost from the Bible, than Joseph Smith shouldn't be lifting them from another guy's book.

I'd argue that the Prophet can find and discern plain and precious truths from any source.

Been awhile since seeing you around, rockpond....

Edited by Calm
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On 8/23/2020 at 2:35 PM, OGHoosier said:

Indeed. If a mankind had already succeeded in arriving at a truth, why reveal it from on high anew?

I'd hope this becomes the apologetic on this.  "well God didn't reveal anything new to Joseph...it was sitting in a set of books, so He just told Joseph about that stuff, asking him to slyly sneak some of the useful sounding parts out and then pretend it was all something like a "translation" given of God.  What a marvelous truth we have discovered!"  

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2 hours ago, stemelbow said:

I'd hope this becomes the apologetic on this.  "well God didn't reveal anything new to Joseph...it was sitting in a set of books, so He just told Joseph about that stuff, asking him to slyly sneak some of the useful sounding parts out and then pretend it was all something like a "translation" given of God.  What a marvelous truth we have discovered!"  

Your well of bitterness towards all things Joseph Smith seems to run really deep, what is the backstory? Genuine question!

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2 hours ago, stemelbow said:

I'd hope this becomes the apologetic on this.  "well God didn't reveal anything new to Joseph...it was sitting in a set of books, so He just told Joseph about that stuff, asking him to slyly sneak some of the useful sounding parts out and then pretend it was all something like a "translation" given of God.  What a marvelous truth we have discovered!"  

That would not have to be the “apologetic” if, as Jackson is claiming, the instances of resemblance between the Joseph Smith Translation and the Clarke commentary are “superficial” and “coincidental.”  I look forward to seeing Jackson’s analysis on this. 
 

But, as Jackson is pointing out, there would be nothing wrong with a scholar, through his own reasoning, arriving at truth and Joseph Smith subsequently being alerted to that truth through exposure to the scholar’s work and then having it confirmed through divine revelation — if indeed that is what happened. Your remark reflects inordinate and uncalled for cynicism and sneering disdain on your part. 

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On 8/23/2020 at 2:35 PM, OGHoosier said:

Indeed. If a mankind had already succeeded in arriving at a truth, why reveal it from on high anew?

To endow it with divine approbation and establish it as truth, not merely scholarly opinion. Surely you can see a distinction. 

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On 8/21/2020 at 5:29 PM, Scott Lloyd said:

 

If God is the author, how could one or the other of the prophets be accused of plagiarizing what neither could claim proprietorship over?

Shouldn't that be, "Plagiarizing over which neither could claim proprietorship."? 🙂

Just having fun, Scott.  I'm the last person that should be giving grammar lessons.

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On 8/23/2020 at 1:35 PM, OGHoosier said:

Indeed. If a mankind had already succeeded in arriving at a truth, why reveal it from on high anew?

It was important enough to say it twice.

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50 minutes ago, T-Shirt said:

Shouldn't that be, "Plagiarizing over which neither could claim proprietorship."? 🙂

Just having fun, Scott.  I'm the last person that should be giving grammar lessons.

Well, if you’re going to rewrite the phrase, it should be “plagiarizing THAT over which neither could claim proprietorship.”

But I’m not strict about avoiding a dangling preposition — especially when doing so might render the sentence less clear, as I believe it would in this instance. 

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On 8/23/2020 at 5:53 PM, Calm said:

Been awhile since seeing you around, rockpond....

Been really busy but I miss the conversations here (the good ones, at least). :)

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8 hours ago, gav said:

Your well of bitterness towards all things Joseph Smith seems to run really deep, what is the backstory? Genuine question!

Hey, gav.  My post was more a commentary on apologetics than on JS.  

"Bitter"  towards JS?  I wouldn't say that.  He lived an eventful short life.  He started a religion that continues today.  He married tons of women and girls as he gained power and influence.  And ultimately caused quite a stir in every place he lived.  The controversy that followed him around from place to place eventually caught up to him as he died at the hands of a frenzied mob.  Most of these notable events are pretty tragic but you simply cant deny the religious influence he gained, and the commanding charisma he utilized, forming a devoted following.  Not bitter.  I find the era of his life pretty interesting even if I find his religion problematic and may object to many of his indiscretions.  

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7 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

That would not have to be the “apologetic” if, as Jackson is claiming, the instances of resemblance between the Joseph Smith Translation and the Clarke commentary are “superficial” and “coincidental.”  I look forward to seeing Jackson’s analysis on this. 
 

But, as Jackson is pointing out, there would be nothing wrong with a scholar, through his own reasoning, arriving at truth and Joseph Smith subsequently being alerted to that truth through exposure to the scholar’s work and then having it confirmed through divine revelation — if indeed that is what happened. Your remark reflects inordinate and uncalled for cynicism and sneering disdain on your part. 

I'm eager to see what he comes up with too.  Still,  feeling concerned hes basing his conclusions on only part of the story since what is published is a very minimal sampling of the claimed comparisons.  Hopefully too, Townsend doesn't take the legs out from under him.  

I think I get your tendency to lash out.  Og's comment seems to help prepare room for the very apologetic I mentioned.  

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1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

I'm eager to see what he comes up with too.  Still,  feeling concerned hes basing his conclusions on only part of the story since what is published is a very minimal sampling of the claimed comparisons.  Hopefully too, Townsend doesn't take the legs out from under him.  

I think I get your tendency to lash out.  Og's comment seems to help prepare room for the very apologetic I mentioned.  

Townsend's upcoming paper, if I am not mistaken, is focused on Clarke's influence in the Isaiah of the Book of Mormon. It wouldn't engage Jackson's work much. 

I think my comment has been misunderstood. It's my fault for not being more precise. I believe that divine revelation is needed for anything to become doctrine, however, I do think that it's reasonable for God to highlight truths that Joseph found in the world around him. In that sense I don't think that every single doctrine we have needed to be delivered direct from heaven without any intermediary. It's possible that the Spirit confirmed the truth of some doctrines to Joseph Smith which he found in his environment. To my mind, that is not any less a revelation. Paul taught truths which were found in the world around him (cf. Acts 17:28). Jesus Christ referenced the scriptures of his day and possibly even the Setne story in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. This does not bother me; it would be foolish to presume that children of God could be so totally blind as to miss all truth and represent none of it in their sacred musings. 

This, however, is nowhere close to what I intended to say:

11 hours ago, stemelbow said:

"well God didn't reveal anything new to Joseph...it was sitting in a set of books, so He just told Joseph about that stuff, asking him to slyly sneak some of the useful sounding parts out and then pretend it was all something like a "translation" given of God.  What a marvelous truth we have discovered!"  

I do not believe that God didn't reveal "anything new" to Joseph. On the contrary, He revealed quite a bit. I think that your view of revelation is unnecessarily narrow, but that definition of revelation sure makes for good mockery, doesn't it? That's no apologetic, that's a mockery. 

Edit: As a sidenote, imagine somebody saying that "Paul just got the idea that we are children of God from Greek poets!" 

Edited by OGHoosier
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