Jump to content

Richard Bushman - BOM “reshaped by inspiration”


Recommended Posts

I don't make a case for exclusive Early Modern English, and neither does Royal Skousen. You know that !  It reminds me of when I was asked a question after one of my articles, by someone you know quite well from your work, and he wrote that my position was that the Book of Mormon was (strictly) an early modern text, using that as a false premise to his question. So I checked my abstract and in it I had clearly written mostly Early Modern English.  This is a very tiring assertion, and even worse, perhaps.

The case that I/we make is that so much of the syntax is early modern that it presents as essentially early modern in its syntax. If we classify the fiber of its language, the syntax, then we must say it is early modern at its core, in its essential characteristics, not late modern. And it's early modern to such an extent, so far beyond the pseudobiblical, in so many ways, that JS almost certainly didn't author it. The subordinate that usage is just one of these. The personal relative pronoun system is another, and the book's verb complementation is another. And then we can add to that the past tense, and so forth.

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
On 1/16/2021 at 7:19 PM, rongo said:

I don't think he was reading a text. I think he saw text in his mind, but that it wasn't "faxed" to him verbatim (i.e., that he put the images and thoughts into the English at his command). I believe that the Spirit helped him commit superhuman feats of memory (i.e., with the Isaiah and other KJV material), and that his immersion in the KJV Bible after the First Vision and Moroni's visit informed and complemented his local rural upstate New York syntax. 

Some people claim that it is possible to pin down which edition of the KJV was actually used in the BofM.  That would pretty much negate the notion of "superhuman feats of memory" which have been suggested.  Moreover, there is no hint of rural 19th century syntax, but rather Early Modern English of several centuries before.  Finally, the internal complexity of the text has led some, like Grant Hardy, to conclude that it could not have been a mere off-the-top-of-the-head composition.  I have compiled a great many editorial techniques used in the creation of the text which make it clear that the BofM was created by skilled editors over a lengthy period (chapter 2 in my book, Egyptianisms in the Book of Mormon and Other Studies, online at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Eohnr9TsQJ7ATDusfDUB9H8SQ03yaaa6/view?usp=sharing).

Link to post
On 1/22/2021 at 10:21 AM, Brant Gardner said:

There is a growing amount of evidence concerning all of Joseph's translation projects. What is becoming clear is that Joseph's mind was an important aspect of each of the projects. Of course, the most controversial of those is the Book of Mormon because we can actually know so little of what the actual process was. My opinion is that Joseph received the meaning of the plates (or of the revelations, or the book of Abraham), and wrote that meaning according to his available language. I do believe that he saw words when he used the seer stone. There seems to be a lot of evidence that he saw something, and the spelling of names is the strongest suggestion that there were words. I also suggest that there was a process that allowed him to see text that was still derived from his seeric ability. There is an important case of another person seeing a paper with text on it when using a crystal ball (a type of seer stone).

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my question.

To me the theory that he was reading off an already existing translation, a "cultural and creative translation" (Skousen), is more plausible.

JS did things that are not ordinarily possible to humans (dictating the revelations in the D & C, for example), but even so, giving us the BOM in 67 working days, an uninterrupted flow, spelling out proper names, places, so many distinctive and unique voices (how many distinctive voices? 28, I think), complex geographies, radically different places and cultures (1 Nephi, Book of Ether) etc., etc. ... I don't know how this could've been possible, even for someone with JS's outsize abilities, working out all of these various elements on the fly.

It is easier for me to think he was reading off an existing text, a translation that had already been done by some other prophet.

Ultimately I realize this is not very important, and that JS himself, when asked about the translation/transmission process simply said it was done “by the gift and power of God.” 

And I accept that.

Edited by bdouglas
  • Upvote 2
Link to post
On 1/17/2021 at 8:14 PM, readstoomuch said:

It’s a very good interview.  Actually quite faith promoting for me.  He quoted Grant Hardy in explaining the 19th century elements as a restating of the ideas of the ancient prophets for our day.  I never got the impression from the interview that Bushman was saying that the Book of Mormon is made up 19th century fiction when discussing the elements that are associated with that century.  

And yet, despite his current favor for the early 19th century sources for the Book of Mormon, in his Joseph Smith biography Richard Bushman took a hard look at this typical, oft-repeated claim and found it wanting.  Bushman termed the Book of Mormon “almost postmodern in its self-conscious attention to the production of the text” (87), thus, by implication, lending itself well to analysis via the Documentary Hypothesis.  Instead of the vast numbers of parallels claimed by anti-Mormons, Bushman shows how out-of-synch the BofM is with then contemporary thought: “the American story does not control the narrative” (101); the BofM “does not plant seeds of democracy in the primeval history of the nation” (102), etc.

Note Bushman's observation that the Book of Mormon "patriotically [honors] America by giving it a biblical history. And yet on closer reading, the Book of Mormon contests the amalgam of Enlightenment, republican, Protestant, capitalist, and nationalist values that constituted American culture. . . . Against increasing wealth and inequality, the Book of Mormon advocates the cause of the poor. Against the subjection of the Indians, it promises the continent to the native people. Against republican government, it proposes righteous rule by judges and kings under God’s law. Against a closed-canon Bible and non-miraculous religion, the Book of Mormon stands for ongoing revelation, miracles, and revelation to all nations. Against skepticism, it promotes belief; against nationalism, a universal Israel. It foresees disaster for the nation if the love of riches, resistance to revelation, and Gentile civilization prevail over righteousness, revelation, and Israel . . . the Book of Mormon can be read as a ‘document of profound social protest’ against the dominant culture of Joseph Smith’s time" (Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, 104-105).

Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (Knopf, 2005), 87-105.

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 1
Link to post
On 1/16/2021 at 8:11 PM, bdouglas said:

I'm curious to know how you see JS producing BOM without referencing plates. What was he seeing in seer-stone, do you think? If he was working things out on the fly, how does he do this in 67 days, dictating text, spelling out names, places?

That's just the point:  It isn't possible for Joseph to have worked out things on the fly, even with a Harvard PhD, and full access to the library.  The complexities described by Grant Hardy make that impossible.

On 1/16/2021 at 8:11 PM, bdouglas said:

Someone who does not subscribe to theory that he was reading off an existing text told me he thought JS did it in the same way he dictated revelations in the D & C i.e. the words were given to him, but yet at the same they were JS's words, his language. Is this the way you see it?

Carmack compared Joseph's linguistic production (his holographs) with the grammar of the BofM.  They are not similar.

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 1
Link to post
On 1/22/2021 at 10:30 AM, Tacenda said:

I wonder why Joseph didn't take paper and do a rubbing of the page/pages on the plates. That would have been something to see! 

Yes, that's what a scholar did when the Moabite Mesha Stone was found.  It was particularly valuable when the Arabs who owned the stone decided to bust it up in order to make more money by selling it in pieces.

However, we do have the Caractors Document:

6a3acb78af2b7c91a42698428b639219.jpg

Link to post
On 1/22/2021 at 10:21 AM, Brant Gardner said:

There is a growing amount of evidence concerning all of Joseph's translation projects. What is becoming clear is that Joseph's mind was an important aspect of each of the projects. Of course, the most controversial of those is the Book of Mormon because we can actually know so little of what the actual process was. My opinion is that Joseph received the meaning of the plates (or of the revelations, or the book of Abraham), and wrote that meaning according to his available language. I do believe that he saw words when he used the seer stone. There seems to be a lot of evidence that he saw something, and the spelling of names is the strongest suggestion that there were words. I also suggest that there was a process that allowed him to see text that was still derived from his seeric ability. There is an important case of another person seeing a paper with text on it when using a crystal ball (a type of seer stone).

P.S. - I have volume one of your Second Witness series, First Nephi. Halfway thru. Learning a lot.

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
49 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Carmack compared Joseph's linguistic production (his holographs) with the grammar of the BofM.  They are not similar.

!!

I have been reading the Skousen/Carmack original text BOM. There is so much of the language in the original text that is hard to imagine coming from JS. Where would he have pulled that language from?

Edited by bdouglas
  • Upvote 2
Link to post
10 minutes ago, bdouglas said:

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

I have been reading the Skousen/Carmack original text BOM. There is so much of the language in the original text that is hard to imagine coming from JS. Where would he have pulled that language from?

That is why a couple of guys on this board (Rajah Manchou and JarMan) suggest that a 16th or 17th century scholar composed the Book of Mormon based on then available information.

Link to post
1 hour ago, bdouglas said:

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my question.

To me the theory that he was reading off an already existing translation, a "cultural and creative translation" (Skousen), is more plausible.

JS did things that are not ordinarily possible to humans (dictating the revelations in the D & C, for example), but even so, giving us the BOM in 67 working days, an uninterrupted flow, spelling out proper names, places, so many distinctive and unique voices (how many distinctive voices? 28, I think), complex geographies, radically different places and cultures (1 Nephi, Book of Ether) etc., etc. ... I don't know how this could've been possible, even for someone with JS's outsize abilities, working out all of these various elements on the fly.

It is easier for me to think he was reading off an existing text, a translation that had already been done by some other prophet.

Ultimately I realize this is not very important, and that JS himself, when asked about the translation/transmission process simply said it was done “by the gift and power of God.” 

And I accept that.

You are not alone. However, the longer I look at the text, the more I see that is better explained by an "instantaneous" translation. In particular, the multiple times that the corrective "or" is used don't fit with a slow translation, or with the original author. They have the features of oral creation. Many of the long sentences (particularly those that get lost in side alleys and never really complete the sentence) are more evidence of orality that either the original writing or a slower translation. 

The "cultural and creative" aspects are undeniably there. It is, as it has always been, a question of who the translator was. I put my finger on Joseph. Aspects of the way the Book of Mormon was dictated fit the dictation of the revelations, suggesting a similarity that need not appeal to a prior written translator.

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 1
Link to post
2 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

You are not alone. However, the longer I look at the text, the more I see that is better explained by an "instantaneous" translation. In particular, the multiple times that the corrective "or" is used don't fit with a slow translation, or with the original author. They have the features of oral creation. Many of the long sentences (particularly those that get lost in side alleys and never really complete the sentence) are more evidence of orality that either the original writing or a slower translation. 

The "cultural and creative" aspects are undeniably there. It is, as it has always been, a question of who the translator was. I put my finger on Joseph. Aspects of the way the Book of Mormon was dictated fit the dictation of the revelations, suggesting a similarity that need not appeal to a prior written translator.

I have zero background in linguistics so I can’t comment on “or”, but ...

I am reading Skousen original text BOM. I finish 2nd Nephi and I come Jacob … and Jacob speaks in a different voice than Nephi. There are distinctive elements to his speech not present in Nephi's speech.

Then the odd language ... (EModE, according to Skousen/Carmack) ...

I get the feeling that what I’m reading is a deliberate and studied translation of an ancient text, a translation that maybe took place over many years, someone rendering into his native English an ancient text, also "reshaping" (Bushman) for modern world.

I can't get my mind around JS doing this on the fly, without referencing plates ...

P.S. - You write, "Many of the long sentences (particularly those that get lost in side alleys and never really complete the sentence) are more evidence of orality that either the original writing or a slower translation."

I used to wonder about these sentences. The writer seems to lose his train of thought mid-way through a sentence. I used to wonder if this was due to the difficulty of engraving on plates i.e. you can't go back and start over so you press on.

Edited by bdouglas
  • Like 1
  • Upvote 1
Link to post
On 1/22/2021 at 12:41 PM, Brant Gardner said:

Your case for exclusive Early Modern English depends upon not finding examples.

On 1/16/2021 at 10:04 PM, Brant Gardner said:

The second methodological problem is that they compare the the Book of Mormon (typically) to regular texts, and not to those using pseudo-KJV.

Just wanted to emphasize that Gardner's second statement above is blatantly wrong — he himself made comments after my Interpreter paper comparing some Book of Mormon usage to pseudobiblical and pseudoarchaic usage, on the website, a couple of years ago. (Since then I've expanded my comparative pseudobiblical analyses and quite a few things I've studied since then confirm the initial work covered in the paper.) As for the first statement, the argument is not always that usage is exclusively early modern (although some things haven't yet been found later, and this includes large-scale patterns).

The Book of Mormon, in its lexical and syntactic usage, provides us with scores of improbable coincidences with early modern usage. What Gardner repeatedly says is that these were all possible, if improbable. It doesn't matter to him that there are scores of items that range from slightly improbable to exceedingly improbable for JS to have produced in 1829 (and some of these things went strongly against his own native expression, which can be gleaned from his early writings and much of which coincides with typical usage of the period — in most respects, JS's language was typical standard American usage; most people get hung up on the "bad grammar"). Furthermore, Gardner doesn't appear to have any qualms about going against the crowd-sourced OED in dozens of instances of archaic lexical usage, often labeled as obsolete, and sometimes even confirmed by external commentary in the 1700s. (See the Interpreter blog for our latest work on this, work that has narrowed the number of potentially obsolete lexical items to close to 50; just this one point strongly points to JS receiving a revealed text.)

 

I read an OE paper a while back where the central point was similar to the issue of Book of Mormon authorship and linguistic evidence. What spurred the paper was that improbable hypotheses had been made to generate unreasonable doubt about the dating of a poem.

Quote

L. Neidorf (2015):  Genuine contributions to knowledge consist not in registering the conception of improbable alternatives, but in identifying the most probable explanation for the phenomena under scrutiny.

Unfortunately, Gardner frequently registers the conception of improbable alternatives in relation to Book of Mormon English usage, often citing secondary sources, rarely relying on primary sources. He hasn't shown later lexical and syntactic usage fitting the Book of Mormon. He hasn't updated 50 OED entries, giving evidence for how the dictionary has it wrong, that so much vocabulary labeled obsolete in the dictionary actually persisted even when, in some cases, the last attestations are before 1620. He hasn't found any modern texts with the Book of Mormon's relative pronoun patterns or heavy finite verb complementation or heavy future subjunctive shall usage.

The reality is something along these lines: Because there are so many improbable coincidences in the Book of Mormon with attested nonbiblical, nonpseudobiblical, archaic English usage, including quite a few large-scale patterns of the kind that are mostly nonconsciously produced, the most probable explanation is that JS didn't author or word the text.

Link to post
3 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

You are not alone. However, the longer I look at the text, the more I see that is better explained by an "instantaneous" translation. In particular, the multiple times that the corrective "or" is used don't fit with a slow translation, or with the original author. They have the features of oral creation. Many of the long sentences (particularly those that get lost in side alleys and never really complete the sentence) are more evidence of orality that either the original writing or a slower translation. 

The "cultural and creative" aspects are undeniably there. It is, as it has always been, a question of who the translator was. I put my finger on Joseph. Aspects of the way the Book of Mormon was dictated fit the dictation of the revelations, suggesting a similarity that need not appeal to a prior written translator.

This sounds like a good theory to me.  Instantaneous translation would cover how wordy the book gets at times and how thoughts are changed seemingly midstream.  Sometimes, it seems as though Joseph was looking for the right way to express what he was feeling from the spirit at the time, especially in 3rd Nephi when he is recording some of the Savior's words.  I believe even the book of mormon itself explains how one can get so caught up in the spirit that words can't properly express or convey meaning.

  • Like 1
Link to post
5 hours ago, champatsch said:

The reality is something along these lines: Because there are so many improbable coincidences in the Book of Mormon with attested nonbiblical, nonpseudobiblical, archaic English usage, including quite a few large-scale patterns of the kind that are mostly nonconsciously produced, the most probable explanation is that JS didn't author or word the text.

And yet we still have the problem that there are aspects of the text that postdate the other evidence. Since Early Modern English also gets extended to 1800, the issue isn't even Early Modern English, but the conservation of earlier variants. 

It is possible, perhaps, to posit parts of the Book of Mormon to have been translated earlier, but it must also be conceded that some elements were translated later. If we have only one translator, we have to assume the most recent. If there were multiple translations, then we are in the realm of inexplicable mystery.

We haven't even attempted a discussion about the unusual logic of some translator a hundred years before Joseph. That couldn't have been done on earth, and if in Heaven, then why the archaic language? 

Link to post
5 hours ago, bdouglas said:

I used to wonder about these sentences. The writer seems to lose his train of thought mid-way through a sentence. I used to wonder if this was due to the difficulty of engraving on plates i.e. you can't go back and start over so you press on.

That has become the standard explanation, but it doesn't work. The changes are to whole clauses. If you were writing on paper, you would cross out the word. When the Maya carved glyphs, they recarved them. It is more efficient to stop at the first word and cross it out--it is much harder to write several more words on the plates. Where we do see this kind of correction is in oral discourse because the phrase is out when the need to clarify it becomes apparent. You cannot cross out oral texts, but it is easy and well attested on physical texts.

  • Like 1
Link to post
50 minutes ago, Brant Gardner said:

We haven't even attempted a discussion about the unusual logic of some translator a hundred years before Joseph.

But the whole JS story is unusual. Given the strangeness of the whole JS story we already know, would it really be that unusual for there to be parts of this story that we haven’t been made aware of?

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
2 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

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

We haven't even attempted a discussion about the unusual logic of some translator a hundred years before Joseph. ......................

Many people find the mere existence of the Book of Mormon preposterous, without even considering these new problems.

2 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

That has become the standard explanation, but it doesn't work. The changes are to whole clauses. If you were writing on paper, you would cross out the word. When the Maya carved glyphs, they recarved them. It is more efficient to stop at the first word and cross it out--it is much harder to write several more words on the plates. Where we do see this kind of correction is in oral discourse because the phrase is out when the need to clarify it becomes apparent. You cannot cross out oral texts, but it is easy and well attested on physical texts.

On paper or vellum one can of course erase a mistake, or at least insert a correction in the margin or above the line.  If the BofM plates were made of tumbaga, however, that might obviate any sort of erasure, and we actually have evidence of such a glaring error, as discovered by Grant Hardy[1] -- made when Mormon was engraving, not when Joseph's scribe was copying:
 

Quote

Alma 13:12-16

12 Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.

16 Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.

--------------------------- 

13 And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest.

14 Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after this same order which I have spoken, who also took upon him the high priesthood forever.

15 And it was this same Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes; yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed.

This is the proper order restored.  Alma 13:16, which clearly should have been inserted immediately following 13:12, was instead dropped during ancient dictation due to a Nephite scribal failure to maintain the proper verse sequence due to verses 12 and 16 having the same final line (homoeoteleuton), i.e., the Nephite scribe (Mormon?) was unable to maintain sequence while moving his eyes back and forth from one text to the other, although he finally noticed his error and picked up the lost verse three verses later.

This was not a mistake of Oliver Cowdery as scribe for Joseph, nor of Joseph Smith as he dictated the continuous text in 1829. For the Original Manuscript (O MS) itself contains the error, without any correction being attempted then (Oliver and the other scribes made regular corrections and insertions immediately, where they noticed the need) -- nor in any subsequent manuscript or edition.  This means that the error must go back to a much earlier scribe or editor, such as Mormon himself.

Another indicator of lack of erasures can be found in the brief phrase "or rather," to correct the wrong choice of words, as in Mosiah 7:8, Alma 39:16.[2]

[1] G. R. Hardy, "The Book of Mormon as a Literary (Written) Artifact," JBMS, 12/2 (2003):107-109,118.

[2] Treat, “No Erasers,” Zarahemla Record, 13-14/5 (1981), reprinted in Recent Book of Mormon Developments (Independence: Zarahemla Research Foundation, 1984), I:54; D. Heater, “’No Erasers’ Update 2011,” Quetzal Codex, #2 (Spring 2011):2-5; Angela M. Crowell, “Hebraic Insights: ‘Or, or rather’ – A Newly Recognized Hebraism,” Qumran Quest, 5/2 (2000):1-3.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
Link to post
2 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

We haven't even attempted a discussion about the unusual logic of some translator a hundred years before Joseph. That couldn't have been done on earth,

Why could it not have been done on Earth a hundred years before Joseph?

There were plenty of 'ancient texts' being translated a hundred or so years before Joseph. There was a case of such a text being discovered in Detroit by the business partner of Joseph's Uncle. A similar text (later determined to be a translation of ancient Irish history) was discovered in a cave in Sandusky New York. I find it interesting that Carmack has found commonalities between the Book of Mormon and northern histories like Macpherson's Ossian 

It would only take an elderly Scottish trader, a wandering Swedenborgian minister, or an Old Believer (let's call him Moroni) with such a text in his rucksack to cross paths with Joseph. This Moroni could have communicated the core narrative of that text to Joseph, and Joseph then 'translated' the dictation he received from Moroni. 

This is not too far from the accounts of Moroni given by Leman Copely, Mary Whitmer and David Whitmer:

"When I was returning to Fayette with Joseph and Oliver all of us riding in the wagon, Oliver and I on an old-fashioned wooden spring seat and Joseph behind us, while traveling along in a clear open place, a very pleasant, nice-looking old man suddenly appeared by the side of our wagon who saluted us with, “good morning, it is very warm,” at the same time wiping his face or forehead with his hand. We returned the salutation, and by a sign from Joseph I invited him to ride if he was going our way. But he said very pleasantly, “No, I am going to Cumorah.” This name was something new to me, I did not know what Cumorah meant. We all gazed at him and at each other, and as I looked round enquiringly of Joseph the old man instantly disappeared, so that I did not see him again."

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
11 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

suggest that a 16th or 17th century scholar composed the Book of Mormon based on then available information.

ckLNtfj.pngA 16th or 17th century scholar who composed the Book of Mormon, or perhaps translated the text that became the Book of Mormon. Either way, a set of metal plates with that account seemingly end up in the knapsack of a heavy set man, about 5'9, in a brown woolen suit who was hanging out around the house where Joseph was translating the Book of Mormon.

In the earliest accounts, Moroni seems to be a traveller on his way to Cumorah with a package that was delivered to Joseph Smith. It doesn't seem improbable to me that the Book of Mormon was written or translated a few hundred years before 1830.

Source: Mary Whitmer and Moroni: Experiences of an Artist in Creating a Historical Painting

Edited by Rajah Manchou
  • Upvote 1
Link to post
8 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

And yet we still have the problem that there are aspects of the text that postdate the other evidence. Since Early Modern English also gets extended to 1800, the issue isn't even Early Modern English, but the conservation of earlier variants. 

It is possible, perhaps, to posit parts of the Book of Mormon to have been translated earlier, but it must also be conceded that some elements were translated later. If we have only one translator, we have to assume the most recent. If there were multiple translations, then we are in the realm of inexplicable mystery.

We haven't even attempted a discussion about the unusual logic of some translator a hundred years before Joseph. That couldn't have been done on earth, and if in Heaven, then why the archaic language? 

That's the part of the theory of EME that has never made sense to me.  Why would God go to all the trouble of revealing the plates to Joseph only to transmit to him, and through him to the world, a translation done previously by some other individual/being that wasn't fully intelligible to those to whom it was revealed.  I gather some consider it to be a type of "easter egg," that when discovered at a later date somehow verifies Joseph Smith's account of gold plates, seer stone, etc., but that strains credulity.  

  • Like 1
Link to post
9 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

And yet we still have the problem that there are aspects of the text that postdate the other evidence. Since Early Modern English also gets extended to 1800, the issue isn't even Early Modern English, but the conservation of earlier variants. 

 

The text has very few things that are only late modern. The vast majority is early modern in character, since the vast majority of the syntactic usage — which can be tracked accurately or fairly accurately in textual record — was much more prevalent before 1701. All these content-rich phrases that most people focus on occur in a matrix of early modern syntax.

Since when did Early Modern English get extended to 1800? Most have it ending in 1670 or 1700. The label Early Modern English is a convenient one for descriptive purposes, used by many. We can call all the language of the Book of Mormon modern English because Early Modern English is modern. That doesn't make it any more likely that JS authored it.

 

9 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

It is possible, perhaps, to posit parts of the Book of Mormon to have been translated earlier, but it must also be conceded that some elements were translated later. If we have only one translator, we have to assume the most recent. If there were multiple translations, then we are in the realm of inexplicable mystery.

From our limited perspective we don't have one translator or one translation event, but that could be wrong and is a different question entirely, which has nothing to do with determining whether JS might have authored the text, either ex nihilo or from revealed ideas. Inexplicable mystery? To Skousen and me an uninteresting, even distracting comment, which doesn't do anything to make the textual conclusion of non-JS authorship less likely.

 

9 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

We haven't even attempted a discussion about the unusual logic of some translator a hundred years before Joseph. That couldn't have been done on earth, and if in Heaven, then why the archaic language? 

Another why/translation issue, another distraction. This is apparently important to you, but not to the question of Book of Mormon authorship. See immediately above. These side issues you bring up might have the effect of sowing doubt in the minds of those who haven't thought about what decides the issue of whether JS authored or "translated" the text. (Here I use translated in quotes because under a revealed ideas scenario — which ab initio doesn't work for names and many other things, including biblical passages — JS wasn't even a translator in the default sense; he was only a partial translator.)

Those who haven't reasoned through what determines whether JS authored the text might wrongly think that what you call "unusual logic" weakens the strong linguistic position on authorship or that the character of the translation determines authorship (this was the approach you took for your 2011 book – a highly problematic one). It is the character of the language, not the character of the translation, that determines Book of Mormon authorship. And there's a large amount of lexical and syntactic evidence indicating that JS didn't author it, no matter how many side issues you raise.
 

Edited by champatsch
Link to post
4 hours ago, Steve Thompson said:

That's the part of the theory of EME that has never made sense to me.  Why would God go to all the trouble of revealing the plates to Joseph only to transmit to him, and through him to the world, a translation done previously by some other individual/being that wasn't fully intelligible to those to whom it was revealed.

A prophetic chain of custody, perhaps.  Not really dissimilar from the prophetic chain of custody depicted in the BofM itself.  Nor substantively different from the appearance of an account written by Abraham in a Ptolemaic period papyrus perhaps copied and transmitted by Jewish scribes and redactors for centuries.  Qumran, Masoretic, and LXX scholars might not find anything at all strange in the transmittal of such sacred texts down through time.  The cache of Coptic documents at Chenoboskion is just another example.  Why would this surprise any of us?

4 hours ago, Steve Thompson said:

  I gather some consider it to be a type of "easter egg," that when discovered at a later date somehow verifies Joseph Smith's account of gold plates, seer stone, etc., but that strains credulity.  

Not necessarily.  It can equally be used (and rationally so) to argue for Joseph's use of an earlier manuscript in order to hoodwink his followers.  That is merely an extension of the various manuscript theories offered over the years:  Spaulding MS, View of the Hebrews, The Great War, etc.  https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1976/09/i-have-a-question/would-you-respond-to-the-theories-that-the-book-of-mormon-is-based-on-the-spaulding-manuscript-or-on-ethan-smiths-view-of-the-hebrews?lang=eng

The difference in this case is that the conclusion is inductively arrived at by scholars closely examining the grammar of the earliest text of the BofM and unexpectedly discovering the EModE features of it.  How does that have apologetic value?

Link to post
6 hours ago, Steve Thompson said:

That's the part of the theory of EME that has never made sense to me.  Why would God go to all the trouble of revealing the plates to Joseph only to transmit to him, and through him to the world, a translation done previously by some other individual/being that wasn't fully intelligible to those to whom it was revealed.  I gather some consider it to be a type of "easter egg," that when discovered at a later date somehow verifies Joseph Smith's account of gold plates, seer stone, etc., but that strains credulity.  

Faith and skill must be built, line upon line. Having physical objects was initially necessary but in the end Joseph needed very little. Initially he referred to the plates and used the U&T and translation was slower and possibly more laborious, later only the seer stone with no reference to the plates was required and still later nothing was required for the dictations of revelations in the D&C etc.

Edited by gav
  • Like 2
Link to post
6 minutes ago, gav said:

Faith and skill must be built, line upon line. Having physical objects was initially necessary but in the end Joseph needed very little. Initially he referred to the plated and used the U&T and translation was slower and possibly more laborious, later only the seer stone with no reference to the plates was required and still later nothing was required for the dictations of revelations in the D&C etc.

I think sometimes we need physical things to help us grow in our spiritual faith.  Like the blind man that Christ cured by spitting in the mud and putting the muddy mixture onto his eyes.  A person could ask "Why would God go through all the work of doing that when it wasn't necessary?"

Maybe it wasn't wasn't necessary for the healing of other people at other times, but for whatever reason it was necessary that time with that man.

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...