Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Abinadi's Use of Ancient Near Eastern Concepts in His Testimony of Christ

An outstanding recent book on the Book of Mormon is Testaments: Links between the Book of Mormon and the Hebrew Bible by David E. Bokovoy and John A. Tvedtnes (Tooele, Utah: Heritage Press, 2003, 232 pages). This morning I read chapter 14, "The Personification of Death and Hell." The authors discuss the ancient Near Eastern patterns in treating death and hell that have strong parallels to the Book of Mormon. I was especially intrigued by the issue of "swallowing" and its relationship to the bands of death.

In the ancient Near East, hell, or Sheol in Hebrew, was the shadowy underworld where departed spirits dwelt in grief, but was often personified with a demonic deity, the power behind death. Death also was often personified. The forces or monsters of death and hell often had to be overcome in battle, as in legends from the Canaanites. This concept is embodied in the Old Testament and is also found in the Book of Mormon. For example, Jacob in 2 Nephi 9 calls death and hell a "monster" three times (verse 10, 19, and 26). For example, in verse 9, he refers to death and hell as a monster from whom we must escape with the help of God:
10 O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit.
Among Old Testament passages personifying death, of particular importance is Isaiah 25:8, where we learn that the Lord "will swallow up death in victory." The use of the word "swallow" is especially interesting, for in ancient Canaanite mythology, death was depicted as the "swallower" - a monster with a limitless appetite. Bokovoy and Tvedtnes note Isaiah's ironical touch in predicting that Jehovah would "swallow the swallower."

This very concept, resonating with ancient Semitic concepts, is found in the Book of Mormon in Mosiah 16:7-8:
7 And if Christ had not risen from the dead, or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection.

8 But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.
I note that similar language is used in Alma 22:14, which summarizes the basic teachings ("missionary discussions") of Nephite missionaries teaching Lamanites:
14 And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory; and Aaron did expound all these things unto the king.
The Nephite missionaries apparently were highly influenced by the recorded teachings of Abinadi.

The same concept is repeated in Mormon 7:5:
5 Know ye that ye must come to the knowledge of your fathers, and repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, and that he was slain by the Jews, and by the power of the Father he hath risen again, whereby he hath gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up.
In the short passage of Mosiah 16:7-8, Abinadi employs several ancient Near Eastern concepts: personification of death, a battle of death to give victory, the imagery of swallowing death, and the concept of "the bands of death." Reference to the "bands of death" occurs in several parts of Abinadi's discourse (Mosiah 15:8-9, 20, 23, 16:7) and in other parts of the Book of Mormon (Alma 4:14, 5:7,9-10, 7:12; 11:41-42; 22:14). This phrase does not occur in the KJV, but is found in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament. For example, in Psalm 18:4-5, the KJV has:
4 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.

5 The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.
The Hebrew word, hevel has been translated as "sorrows" in these verses, but it also has the meanings of "cord" or "band." Thus, the "sorrows of death" in Psalm 18:4 might more clearly be translated as the "bands of death" or "cords of death" -- phrases used in many modern translations. The same Hebrew phrase that can be translated as "bands of death" also occurs in 2 Samuel 22:6 and Psalm 116:3, where the KJV sticks with "sorrows of death" in both cases.

(To those who accuse Joseph Smith of plagiarizing because of Book of Mormon quotations from the Bible, please do not lose you faith in the Bible by noting that Psalm 18:5 is shamelessly plagiarized from 2 Samuel 22:6. Those Bible authors, sad to say, were rogues cut from the same fabric as Joseph.)

While the KJV does not use the phrase "bands of death" as the Book of Mormon does, a hint of that concept is in Ps 107:14: "He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder." And Psalm 73:4 has "there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm."

As another example of Book of Mormon passages dealing with the bands of death, consider Abinadi's teachings in Mosiah 15:8,9:
8 And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men--

9 Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice.
Again we see the themes of a victorious conquest, breaking the bands of death, and delivering fallen man.

(FYI, I think the authors have made a mistake in their essay, ascribing the Hebrew word hevel to "snares" in Ps. 18:5, when my reference materials give it as a different word, moqesh, that does mean bait, trap, or snare.)

Summarizing, I find it interesting that Abinadi would introduce the phrase "bands of death" that appears to be translated from an authentic Hebrew phrase that did not make it into the KJV Bible. And he uses this phrase in the context of a battle of deliverance between a divine hero, Jehovah, who would conquer the personified monster of death and thus "swallow up" death in victory. These concepts are solidly grounded in ancient Near Eastern concepts.

Bokovoy and Tvedtnes offer these remarks in conclusion (p. 87):
The personification of Death and Hell, together with motifs such as bands of death, preparing an escape route, and swallowing up one's adversary, demonstrate an authentic core to the Book of Mormon's claims for ties with the ancient Near East. Until quite recently, biblical scholars were unaware of these cosmological elements in the Old Testament. Yet Book of Mormon authors drew upon these archaic themes with poetic ease when presenting their testimonies that Christ was victorious over the grave.
Personally, I am moved with the power of the testimonies of Christ in the Book of Mormon. There is richness to the words and symbols used, a richness that cannot be appreciated without turning to the ancient Semitic and other Near Eastern roots of the ancient and inspired text. This truly is a marvelous and divine testament of Christ.

27 comments:

Sean said...

I appreciate your testimony of the BofM, but the attempt to show thematic consistency of the BofM with ancient texts is a weak attempt to overcome the serious physical evidences that contradict historicity claims.

I've noticed many posts lately in the Archipelago that focus on chiasms, themes, and linguistic connections, thereby abandoning any attempt to confront the archaeological, DNA, and geographical evidences that are overwhelming BofM historicity claims.

Can't we just call it a book that reflects the frontier/millenialist thought of the 19th century (Indians as Hebrews, Christ in the Americas) and take from it what one will? No more pseudo-scholarly attempts to make sense of the anachronisms, plagiarisms, and contradictions that will of course arise from a created work from that time period...

Mormanity said...

And I suppose your next request is for us to just agree that the Bible is irrelevant, that Christ did not exist, and that instead of trusting God, all we need is Congress?

I don't know what posts you have been noticing lately, but I've dealt with archaeological, DNA, and geographical issues at some length in my posts and at jefflindsay.com. Take a look at the DNA link on the right side of Mormanity, for example.

Sean, the fact that we talk about chiasmus or other issues in no way suggests that we have abandoned discussion of the DNA or archaeology. We've provided loads of information on these topics - including links in discussions in my recent posts of the past few days.

Can't we all just admit that the anti-Mormons have absolutely no explanation for the origins of the Book of Mormon that makes any sense? Can't we all just admit that the intricate evidence from that Arabian Peninsula, for example, absolutely rules out the possibility that Joseph Smith fabricated First Nephi? We we just admit that the evidence from eye-witnesses over their lifetimes provides an overwhelming case for the existence of the gold plates? Can't we just admit that the Book of Mormon is clearly an authentic ancient record and, regardless ofour religious views, begin to at least take the text seriously and learn what we can?

No more pseudo-scholarly attempts to find bits and pieces of obscure and scattered nineteenth-century sources to account for random phrases in the Book of Mormon. No more living in denial about the reality of the Book of Mormon....

Let's face the truth and deal with it. The Book of Mormon could never have been fabricated, even with the best minds available in 1830. There was simply not enough known about the ancient Arabian Peninsula, not enough known about ancient Semitic poetry and writing, not enough known about the types of cultures that existed in Mesoamerica, etc.

sean said...

Jeff, it isn't just "anti-Mormons" who have trouble with BofM historicity.

Your DNA defense relies heavily on church-sponsored sources like FARMS and FAIR. You would be more persuasive if you had broadened your research out beyond the apologetics.

From Lamanites as Hebrews, to the Limited Geography Theory, our next step will be that the BofM battles were really just neighborly spats between two large, jungle-dwelling families. And if God changed their skin color he could change their DNA, hide their metal and horses, and make whole civilizations disappear.

I am not an anti-Mormon, but a former Mormon who just couldn't continue to accept the BofA fiasco, the Kinderhook episode, the 116 pages, Hill Cumorah, selling the copyright in Canada, Cureloms, Curemoms, and the witnesses with their "spiritual eyes"...at some point you've just got to say it doesn't add up and saddle up your tapir and head for firmer ground...

Anonymous said...

It is great fun in a way. This desperate declaration: I'm not an anti-mormon. Then Sean goes on the traditional way. All the things mentioned by Sean falls in the category "Asked and answered". For me it has gone the other way. My questions in those matters mentioned and other questions as well have turned me in to be a believer again!

Anonymous said...

"Your DNA defense relies heavily on church-sponsored sources like FARMS and FAIR."

Good grief. How are these "Church-sponsered" ? *I* certainly didn't receive my tithing cut when I wrote a review for FARMS. FAIR is on such a shoe-string budget that one of the early members has had to make up the balance out of pocket. Beyond finances, no one at the COB created them or encouraged them at the time. "Church-sponsered" indeed...

Ben S.

Anonymous said...

Ben S:

FARMS and FAIR are regularly ridiculed in the scientific community for their conclusions, methodology, and research.

That doesn't make them wrong, but it would help if you could line up non-LDS sources (of which FARMS and FAIR are) to back up the apologetic point of view.

jonathan3d said...

One of the speakers at the Mormon History Association last Saturday pointed out that the anti-Mormons and the faithful Mormons make the same arguments--they just reverse them if they're talking about ancient or modern parallels. For example, Jeff's article here about Abinadi's language reflects a similarity to other ancient texts that supports the authenticity of the Book of Mormon as an ancient text. Anti-Mormons would respond by pointing out differences with ancient texts and say that the similarities are coincidences or incidental. When it comes to similarities to 18th century books (such as View of the Hebrews), anti-Mormons focus on the similarities and faithful Mormons respond by pointing out differences and say that the similarities are coincidences or incidental.

I appreciate Jeff's article here not so much as evidence of the ancient origin of the Book of Mormon as for the additional insight it provides to understanding the text. I hadn't thought of swallowing death in this way before.

Anonymous said...

"FARMS and FAIR are regularly ridiculed in the scientific community for their conclusions, methodology, and research."

Really? What constitutes this monolithic " scientific community" you speak of? Can you back this up with anything? Or by "scientific community" do you mean Signature Books and the like?

I notice that at the FAIR conference this year, there are presenters with PhD's from Yale, Harvard, UMichigan, UCLA, and Uof U. Are they all incompetant within their own academic or "scientific community?"

In any case, there is still no support for the original assertion that FARMS and FAIR are "church-sponsered."

Less bluster, more specifics please.

Anonymous said...

Some Evangelical scholars certainly think FARMS has something valid to say. "Losing the Battle and Not Knowing it" by Paul Owen and Carl Moser, originally in Trinity Journal, but available in random places on teh web.

Ben S.

Mormanity said...

Sean's comments intrigue me. Regarding my DNA paper, he claims that my "DNA defense relies heavily on church-sponsored sources like FARMS and FAIR." His recommendation: "You would be more persuasive if you had broadened your research out beyond the apologetics."

Now Sean, I hope you'll actually take a look at my DNA paper. It has 154 references, of which 24 come from FARMS or FAIRLDS.org. The vast majority of my references come from non-LDS scholarly sources that I dug into myself. For example, there are 31 citations of the American Journal of Human Genetics, and I spent FAR more time poring through printed and electronic issues of that journal than I did reading FARMS sources for my paper.

As amateur or errant as my paper may be, Sean's dismissal of it does not seem well reasoned or scholarly. Sean, I'm sure you have more to say and I welcome further comments, but based on the input so far, I'm tempted to say this: "Can't we just admit that the DNA case against the Book of Mormon is based on pseudo-scholarly arguments based on a 19th-century misreading of the text?"

Anonymous said...

I'd say yes, the bible is irrelavant, david koresh, err christ may or may not have existed, and trust in God or Congress will only end in people being hipocrits and then arguing about it.

The examples you give for DNA evidence are laughable whether or not you were trying to be funny.

I do have a good explanation for the origins of the book of morman. Some dude (or dudette) wrote it. I have lots of such books.

I have to admit, Joseph Smith probably wasn't smart enough to come up with First Nephi all by his lonesome,....he must have read something that somebody else already wrote down somewhere....maybe a library.

And beleive me man, I would take you for a credible eye witness any day of the week....no really. Unless it was something critical to your belief system that is.

What makes the BofM an authentic ancient text? Are they any ancient copies remaining? (ones that weren't confiscated by angels). Why should we take it seriously? You had better have some good evidence for me to convert before I risk getting roasted by Zeus for not sacrificing goats anymore.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff, If you were Magellan who circled the world way back last 15th century. How would you name an place you find. Would you name it Ancient Phoenix or Ancient Denver or maybe Ancient New York. So, in the 18th I am sure many person already knew the Ancient world and for sure you can name it what ever you like. Like what Joseph Smith did. If i were with Joseph that time i can name a place like Ibiang or Bagtok or whatever in ancient world-at least only a few been there. Joseph name or write places in Ancient world that totally did not match.

Anonymous said...

I have only one challege to those who doubt The Book of Mormon and claim it is the work of poor lowly joe smith...write one. Good luck. P.S. Once done with that challege write a Doctrine and Covenants type book. Good day.

mpschmitt said...

I think Jeff's post points out some very interesting nuances I've never noticed before. For that it was a worth while read. I have trouble with some of the ideas being posted in response here. I always have trouble with "scholarly" oposition to the LDS Church that seeks to "deliver a death blow" in the words of one carreer polemicist, to Mormonism by citing this study or that study. Scientists can be wrong in their conclusions. Archeologists can be wrong in their conclusions. Scholars of all sorts have been wrong throughout the centuries on a number of important subjects. When Jesus was teaching he didn't say "If any man desires to know the truthfullness of what I teach, let him find a PHD and ask him if there's enough historical and cultural evidence, and if he can't find a PHD, then let him ask a person with a grudge against me and a thorough knowledge of the Old Testament, preferably someone who has only a cursory understanding of what I've actually taught that the've regurgitated from other sources, and you will know the truthfulness of what I teach." I am always astounded that many oponents to the Church who call themselves Christians use the same tactics of "scholarship" to disprove Mormonism, that are used by non-Christian "scholars" to disprove Christianity. I just saw a show on T.V. recently that said there was not a shred of historical evidence supporting the occurence of the census recorded in the Bible that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. Does that mean I should stop believing it happened? Not at all. Because my faith is not in the scholars or the skeptics. It is in the Lord Jesus Christ. "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man and maketh flesh is arm." (2 Nephi 4:34, Jer 17:5). While scholarly evidences are interesting and they often affirm, broaden and strengthen my faith in the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the witness I received from God by way of the Holy Ghost goes leagues beyond that in helping me. Really, its one of the most frustrating things to see good Christian people expending precious time tearing down the faith of others when they could be learning more about their own history, beliefs and doctrine and bringing souls to Christ. In the words of Wilford Woodruff: "When you go into a neighborhood to preach the Gospel, never attempt to tear down a man’s house, so to speak, before you build him a better one; never, in fact, attack any one’s religion, wherever you go. Be willing to let every man enjoy his own religion. It is his right to do that. If he does not accept your testimony with regard to the Gospel of Christ, that is his affair, and not yours. Do not spend your time in pulling down other sects and parties. We haven’t time to do that. It is never right to do that." (Contributor, August 1895, 636–37)

mpschmitt said...

In response to anonymous...
I have only one challege to those who doubt The Book of Mormon and claim it is the work of poor lowly joe smith...write one. Good luck. P.S. Once done with that challege write a Doctrine and Covenants type book. Good day.

I'll up the ante even further...
This article by Daniel C. Peterson gives some remarkable factoids about the writing of the book of mormon that must be satisfied for the challenge to be fully appropriate:

1. You must be a relatively unlearned farm boy at the time you write the book and not even own a bible.
2. You must convince over 11 people that it's a good idea to testify that you're not making the whole thing up, and persuade them to never deny this testimony to their dying day
3. One of those people must be your own wife and must be convinced that you are not a fraud.
4. 3 of those people must be convinced that an angel stood in the air in front of them and showed them the book.
5. The book must be written in about 63 days, dictated straight. If you pause to take a break, when you return you must pick up exactly where you left off without asking your scribe to tell you where you left off.
6. You must quote entire chapters from the Bible from memory that are relevant to the action at hand in the story line, and then write what ammounts to several chapters of brilliant exposition on these chapters that would make any Pastor jealous (being a simple farm boy who hadn't read much remember).
7. You must include ancient Hebrew literary devices and demonstrate a knowledge of old world geography and culture that is not possible for you to know because it hasn't been discovered yet.
8. Your story must flow chronologically from 600 BC to 400 AD with characters aging apropriately and other events happening reasonably within that time frame.
9. The book must reference other parts of itself all over the place and correctly repeat themes and events without error
10. The book must not contradict itself or Judeo-Christian teachings found elsewhere and must affirm those teachings clearly and fervently.
11. And (finally) the book must simply glow with light and truth, and the Holy Ghost must condone enough of what is taught there to give it His stamp of approval.

Best of luck to you!
First successful submission will receive a major award :-)

Anonymous said...

OR.....
#1. A con artist relatively good at fooling relatively uneducated farmers and town folk. Bible ownership not necassarily required, but it sure would help:)

#2. 11 people? Thats all? A mediocre con artist ought to be able to fool many more than just eleven! And lots of people beleive all kinds of stupid things to their dying day. Just look at the persistance of religion.

#3. Oh, fooling your shoeless and pregnant wife ought to have been one of the easiest of his tasks. I know personally of an intelligent woman (wow, morman now that I think about it...) who had no idea her husband was a pathological liar until I had him arrested. (Unless she was in on it too...which could also apply here).

#4. Convincing is what con artists do....but it works much better when you have one or more people who are in on it helping move the plot along....

#5. This is all assuming the scribes (both and/or either one of them) weren't in on it. If not, well, I think any magician worth his salt could tell you why he needed the rock/hat/hidden notes to help him fool his sponsor and his wife.

#6. Again, assuming that ol' Joe wasn't a liar and con artist, and that his wife and sponsor weren't either total fools or conspirators it is still possible to assume that maybe he had favorite phrases from the bible that he wanted to add to his story (....and seeings as how he was writing the story he could pretty much add anything he wanted) surely these would be memorized or written in his notes. I find this MUCH more plausable than magic rocks and ghosts. I am pretty sure he had been working on the outline for the BOM for some time before actually putting it together. Many authors do this.

#7. I keep hearing about this archeological evidence that everybody until recently was ignorant of. I guess I'll give you this point. Where can I look it up? Will I find it in anything besides a mormon publication? Does china and russia know about this? I'll be back to you on this one. Unfortunatly I suspect it will be something completly rediculous and scientifically unfounded.

#8. Good point! I can't think of any writer who would do something so original! Wow! I mean, even vonnegut couldn't get time and chronology straight in his books! (Well, one of them anyways:) Gimme a break! Let's just pretend you didn't put that in there like it was some kind of relevant point. It does screw up your even ten reasons afterall!)

#9. Hmmm...were you debating whether to use #9 or #8 and then just couldn't make up your mind so you put them both in? Most books and stories follow this format.

#10. What if the "Judeo-Christian teachings found elsewhere" contadict themselves already? Doesn't this become a case of special pleading?
(pouting) no fair!

#11. The only time I have EVER seen the book of mormon glow is when someone rolled a joint from it, I'm not sure if that counts though.

mpschmitt said...

Hmmm.
Not sure what to say to your rebuttal.
I think I'll just let my original invitation stand...

mpschmitt said...

...And as far as the evidence for the Book of Mormon goes:

This is a good start:
http://www.jefflindsay.com/BMEvidences.shtml

Yes he's (gasp) a Mormon.

If you fail to find that persuasive, the better way is through faith and prayer and a careful reading.

Anonymous said...

Hi mpschitt, if you posted this ""When you go into a neighborhood to preach the Gospel, never attempt to tear down a man’s house, so to speak, before you build him a better one; never, in fact, attack any one’s religion, wherever you go. Be willing to let every man enjoy his own religion. It is his right to do that. If he does not accept your testimony with regard to the Gospel of Christ, that is his affair, and not yours. Do not spend your time in pulling down other sects and parties. We haven’t time to do that. It is never right to do that." (Contributor, August 1895, 636–37)"

Why you are sending missions to third world countries? I would love to see the LDS will do it first. Next time dont eat your own words.

If Jesus is with you now and talking to you. I think your first reaction is "Dont tear down my house-Temple" And this Temple is not for everybody. Why GOD will make a Temple and all ordinary person cannot enter just like me. God will not build Temple that is only for LDS. I am not here to tear down your guarded Temple. I am not here to tear down your house. Much more not to tear down the house of your living prophet or your buildings at the Temple Ave. I am here saying I cannot find Jesus in BoM. What i found in BoM is Joseph Smith. Now, that I know your big Temple in Salt Lake City is not for all and it is only for LDS. I can say further God did not send Jesus to build a Temple that is only for LDS and not for me-non LDS.

Please dont blame me the time GOD will shake your house or much more your heart. My Temple is my heart and I find Jesus. I dont need a big Temple with so many lights (outside) and it is only for LDS.

I would wait for GOD's Temple where everybody is invite including LDS.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I got my response:


1. You must be a relatively unlearned farm boy at the time you write the book and not even own a bible.
Lots in Africa but I am very sure you will not believe him because he is black.


2. You must convince over 11 people that it's a good idea to testify that you're not making the whole thing up, and persuade them to never deny this testimony to their dying day.

Yes, please put the criteria for this 11 people: all white and many of them did not follow the UTAH expedition. One is the wife of Joseph Smith. Much more Brigham Young made a coup de tat. I called it power struggle in the presidency.


3. One of those people must be your own wife and must be convinced that you are not a fraud.

The original wife finally said it is a fraud . They decided to make another name for the church-Community of Christ. Please make sure that it is only one wife. Remember Joseph Smith owns many wives. I dont understand who was that wife.

4. 3 of those people must be convinced that an angel stood in the air in front of them and showed them the book.

Yes, finally the two did not follow Josep Smith and even publish their own BoM. Much more they have thier own church.

5. The book must be written in about 63 days, dictated straight. If you pause to take a break, when you return you must pick up exactly where you left off without asking your scribe to tell you where you left off.

Yes, in 63 days which almost half of the book are like this: "came to pass" and "come to pass". Mostly repeated words...

6. You must quote entire chapters from the Bible from memory that are relevant to the action at hand in the story line, and then write what ammounts to several chapters of brilliant exposition on these chapters that would make any Pastor jealous (being a simple farm boy who hadn't read much remember).

I am very sure Joseph Smith has a Bible.

7. You must include ancient Hebrew literary devices and demonstrate a knowledge of old world geography and culture that is not possible for you to know because it hasn't been discovered yet.

yes, Joseph Smith lives just very near to most historian scholar in the US. Please review your history...

8. Your story must flow chronologically from 600 BC to 400 AD with characters aging apropriately and other events happening reasonably within that time frame.

Yes, then make something like modern Egytian writings. Until now, nobody know what is modern Egytian writings.

9. The book must reference other parts of itself all over the place and correctly repeat themes and events without error

YEs, like a war in Hill Cumorah. Until now nobody even seen a sword or bone remains of the war.


10. The book must not contradict itself or Judeo-Christian teachings found elsewhere and must affirm those teachings clearly and fervently.

yes, like the names of most prophet. Example is Moroni son of Mormon, and Mormon son of Mormo.
I think this will contradict.

11. And (finally) the book must simply glow with light and truth, and the Holy Ghost must condone enough of what is taught there to give it His stamp of approval.

YEs, like your temple with full of lights and non LDS cannot enter. A BoM that is not available outside and much more it is for sale.

Them Mormons said...

The past few posts condeming Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Mormon are wrong. But I will not argue when it is worthless to argue when you think the truth is false, and I know the truth is true.

"Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the widom of thy words." - Proverbs 23:9

Mark said...

Ah, It's really too bad that some people replied anonymously here because I'd like to respond to you individually, but you'll have to just read through my response. In response to the person who asked why we are sending missions to third world countries, the answer is simple: Because they are beloved sons and daughters of God and as worthy of salvation as people in first or second world countries. Do you disagree?
Secondly, There are blessings you are missing out on that are great and beautiful and only to be received by those who faithfully prepare to enter the sacred walls of what the Lord has consecrated as his holy house. I have been to the Temple, I have been taught there by the spirit of the Lord. His presence fills that place. You have expressed your doubts about that, but I believe if you had the experiences I have had, you would not feel that way. That is my testimony. If you can't receive it now, I pray that you might someday. There is nothing secretive or restrictive about it. There is everything sacred about it. All may enter and be equally blessed if they are willing to prepare. I haven't trifled with anything that others consider sacred on this posting and I would hope that others (especially those considering themselves to be Christians) would afford me the same respect. So here's my invitation to you, brother/sister: Prepare yourself and your family, then enter the House of the Lord and be blessed for eternity.
Thirdly, just for fun, I would invite you to take a red pen and read the Book of Mormon all the way through, underlining any word that refers to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. Then read it again and ask yourself if you disagree with anything it says about him. If you do that, I think you will find Jesus within it's pages.
Now to the other person who responded to my invitation concerning the Book of Mormon. Let me say right off the bat that I find some of your assumptions about me upsetting (but I think that was intended). Firstly, I am not a racist. I have had testimony of the Church borne to me by many people from all over the world and I have believed every one of them because they were accompanied by the spirit of the Lord. And yes, some of them had darker complexions than others. They are my brothers and sisters. There are hundreds of leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Africa, there are leaders all over the world (including Bishops, Relief Society presidents, Elders Quoruom presidents, General Authorities and the list goes on and on) who are African, Asian, Russian, German, Tongan, etc etc, who have many different skin colors, dialects, cultures, etc. All of whom are children of God. ALL of whom enjoy the same priviledges and blessings in the Church as anyone else. So I really don't understand why you think I wouldn't believe an African farmer with a testimony of the Gospel. I do it all the time.
The rest of your responses are troublesome because they make me feel you really need to understand what the Church is about and what the actual history of the Church is. I'll sum it up briefly:
#2. What does their being white people have to do with it? This was upstate New York in the 1800s... Coup de etat? There was nothing violent in that meeting where Brigham was sustained as president of the church.
#3. Actually Emma never said any such thing. I'll leave you to furnish proof for your claims. I don't understand the bit about wives.
#4. Yes but they never denied their testimonies, did they? I'm not sure they started their own churches. I've never seen that anywhere, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt can you provide evidence of that?
#5. Almost half of the book? are you sure? Please furnish proof that almost half the book is composed of "it came to passes" (preferably in pie chart format, or a histogram). By the way, the word "the" constitutes a good portion of the Bible and that is a repeated word. Does that make the Bible untrue as well?
#6 I will grant you your opinion as it's a perfectly viable one given the historical record.
#7. Actually there is no historical evidence that Joseph Smith had any access to contemporary historical scholars, let alone most of them. And even if he did, some of the things in the Book of Mormon that have since been confirmed were not known yet by those scholars.
#8. I don't understand this one...
#9. I don't understand this one either ...
#10. Nor this one...
#11. I still don't get the bit about the lights. Lots of churches use lighting. Is that bad?
I'm trying to be a bit funny here, but not disrespectful, brother. I just feel like you're attacking something you don't fully understand here, and I'm not sure what else to do. I'd love to help you iron that out though if you really want to discuss in more detail.

mpschmitt said...

Ah, It's really too bad that some people replied anonymously here because I'd like to respond to you individually, but you'll have to just read through my response. In response to the person who asked why we are sending missions to third world countries, the answer is simple: Because they are beloved sons and daughters of God and as worthy of salvation as people in first or second world countries. Do you disagree?
Secondly, There are blessings you are missing out on that are great and beautiful and only to be received by those who faithfully prepare to enter the sacred walls of what the Lord has consecrated as his holy house. I have been to the Temple, I have been taught there by the spirit of the Lord. His presence fills that place. You have expressed your doubts about that, but I believe if you had the experiences I have had, you would not feel that way. That is my testimony. If you can't receive it now, I pray that you might someday. There is nothing secretive or restrictive about it. There is everything sacred about it. All may enter and be equally blessed if they are willing to prepare. I haven't trifled with anything that others consider sacred on this posting and I would hope that others (especially those considering themselves to be Christians) would afford me the same respect. So here's my invitation to you, brother/sister: Prepare yourself and your family, then enter the House of the Lord and be blessed for eternity.
Thirdly, just for fun, I would invite you to take a red pen and read the Book of Mormon all the way through, underlining any word that refers to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. Then read it again and ask yourself if you disagree with anything it says about him. If you do that, I think you will find Jesus within it's pages.
Now to the other person who responded to my invitation concerning the Book of Mormon. Let me say right off the bat that I find some of your assumptions about me upsetting (but I think that was intended). Firstly, I am not a racist. I have had testimony of the Church borne to me by many people from all over the world and I have believed every one of them because they were accompanied by the spirit of the Lord. And yes, some of them had darker complexions than others. They are my brothers and sisters. There are hundreds of leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Africa, there are leaders all over the world (including Bishops, Relief Society presidents, Elders Quoruom presidents, General Authorities and the list goes on and on) who are African, Asian, Russian, German, Tongan, etc etc, who have many different skin colors, dialects, cultures, etc. All of whom are children of God. ALL of whom enjoy the same priviledges and blessings in the Church as anyone else. So I really don't understand why you think I wouldn't believe an African farmer with a testimony of the Gospel. I do it all the time.
The rest of your responses are troublesome because they make me feel you really need to understand what the Church is about and what the actual history of the Church is. I'll sum it up briefly:
#2. What does their being white people have to do with it? This was upstate New York in the 1800s... Coup de etat? There was nothing violent in that meeting where Brigham was sustained as president of the church.
#3. Actually Emma never said any such thing. I'll leave you to furnish proof for your claims. I don't understand the bit about wives.
#4. Yes but they never denied their testimonies, did they? I'm not sure they started their own churches. I've never seen that anywhere, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt can you provide evidence of that?
#5. Almost half of the book? are you sure? Please furnish proof that almost half the book is composed of "it came to passes" (preferably in pie chart format, or a histogram). By the way, the word "the" constitutes a good portion of the Bible and that is a repeated word. Does that make the Bible untrue as well?
#6 I will grant you your opinion as it's a perfectly viable one given the historical record.
#7. Actually there is no historical evidence that Joseph Smith had any access to contemporary historical scholars, let alone most of them. And even if he did, some of the things in the Book of Mormon that have since been confirmed were not known yet by those scholars.
#8. I don't understand this one...
#9. I don't understand this one either ...
#10. Nor this one...
#11. I still don't get the bit about the lights. Lots of churches use lighting. Is that bad?
I'm trying to be a bit funny here, but not disrespectful, brother. I just feel like you're attacking something you don't fully understand here, and I'm not sure what else to do. I'd love to help you iron that out though if you really want to discuss in more detail.

Anonymous said...

Hi mpschmitt,

now, that you find Jesus, why you are looking for Joseph Smith or BoM to find your way to Jesus? Why the BoM say that America is the place God will build his Temple? Even if you enumerate it from 1 to a million to prove the truth to be true in Joseph Smith or BoM or your Temple. I can only say Jesus is the Truth. I dont have to publish another book (BoM); I dont have to build a big Temple is SLC; I dont have to send mission where to drag people to your church. I understand that Jesus have 12 apostles to preach to the world the LOVE of GOD. The mission was to preach; I dont have to convince him or you to join my church. My mission is to tell the Truth. Now, that i know your truth, then this will be my last period of my blog. I will respect you and thank you for letting me understand you.

mpschmitt said...

My dear friend Anonymous,

You are absolutely right, the key thing, the most important thing is that I believe in Jesus Christ and follow his teachings. From your postings it is apparent that you love Jesus and want to follow him sincerely. In that, dear brother, I encourage you with all my heart. By all means persue that with everything you have. It also seems apparent though (please correct me if I'm wrong here) that you haven't actually taken the time yet to read the Book of Mormon for yourself and pray about it. As I've said, all of these scholarly analyses are interesting, but that's not where a testimony comes from. A testimony can only come from the Lord as I'm sure you're aware. If you read the Book of Mormon and ask the Lord for yourself what he thinks of the writings it contains, I have every confidence that you will have an answer to that prayer affirming what it teaches. So many times our Church is represented as teaching "another gospel" simply because we don't happen to agree with all of the doctrines historic Christianity decided upon in from the second century onward. My testimony to you is that if you spend some time among a group of faithful Latter-day saints, observing how they behave themselves, you will have some of your misconceptions about the church soothed. You will see that we don't "drag people to church", we invite them with love and allow them to make their own decisions. You will see people who love their Savior as much as you do and who teach their children to believe in Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation. You will see people who genuinely love and serve one another, who love reading the Word of God, who love to pray, and fast, and praise, and worship. You will see people who know God and love him as their Father. I hope you have a chance to read this, and I hope nothing else I've written was taken the wrong way. I write this with a sincere love and concern for you and all others like you who don't yet understand just how good and sincere the majority of the Latter-day Saints really are about their faith. God bless you in your endeavors, brother and I do pray you read this and find the answers you're seeking about my Church from the one Source (God) who can truly answer you in a way that's unmistakeable.

Harry J. Blige said...

Jeff:
I enjoy your commentaries, but so often I find the evidence, more closely examined, to be quite weak. This post is no different. Based on your summary of the article, the evidence of semitic origins is based on the use of words like "swallow" and "bands" in reference to death. First, as is noted, swallow is used several times in the KJV in reference to death. So no surprise there. And the word "bands" IS used in reference to death at a couple of places, just not specifically "bands of death." Furthermore, the specific phrase "bands of death" is only used by one of the non-KJV translations (out of 7 or 8) that you link to. So, your conclusions depend on the specific use of one word that must be cherry picked from a list of translations, and closely related words and phrases from the KJV have to be dismissed. The conclusions reached by the authors seem to be unwarranted: the demonstratation of "an authentic core to the Book of Mormon's claims for ties with the ancient Near East". The "archaic themes" seem to be quite apparent in the KJV, in similar phrasing as that found in the BoM. I guess I just don't see what is so amazing.

That said, my thoughts are based only on your synopsis, so I think I need to go read the original article. I'm sure there are details that I missed. (And, I'm not arguing against the ancient origins of the BoM. Certainly not. Just that these "evidences" are pretty weak.)

silentscholar said...

I agree on the weak "evidence" However... through intense diligent scripture study... true clearity can only come from inquiring of the Almighty One our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. Which must be attempted more than once I might add. For it must be a prayer that can be written in eternity that is between you and our maker... an undistracted and total sincere prayer. If anyone is to decide whether or not inspired words from our Holy Creator are confirmed elligible or authentic, it is that of his many humble servants who desire not to boast but to remain reverant in all ways and means. A firm testimony will always be more evidence than that of "physical" proof for worldly eyes and apparrel. Faith is knowing, and that can not be shaken or erased. "It is the natrural desire for all good men to seek knowledge..." Does it reaslly matter who's words these are to begin triffling? No... we are all childeren of God, who get inspired within the blueprints we were made by and preserved by day to day. At His will, because he is a Just, and All Knowing God! Only by the redeeming blood of Jesus are we made worthy to understand the mysteries of God. Just how many languages have to become corrupt in this time of our probation? It matters not... but to know that God made it this way so there has to be Faith in him, is plain to me. Just how much physical evidence does the unbeliever need? History has proved this time and time again. He that is open to the whisperings... unknowingly hearing the inticings of the evil spirit... Easily fooled by the worldly cunnings of the miserable dark king of hell. Do not use your mind without properly using your heart. Is it so hard to believe that there were changes made in the KJV by the arm of man who heareth to obey the evil flatterer for the gain of the riches and worldly control. It is clear to me that there are intended contradictions within scripture... all the answers are there... some have been made to discover at later times. Times when you are properly ready to understand, to fully be able to utilize those teachings at the right time. It is not supposed to be easy right. For they are not words of the beholder but those of the evil spirit who can dwell within without constant gaurd and shield given by our Heavenly Father. What is easy... is to deny and criticize. Distractions from the obvious are underestimated for there are endless divers ways with technology alone these days. Pros and Cons right. Always, it does not change the fact that there is good and bad. Only two ways to go. I have faith in our Lord Jesus that the hearts of men will once again be filled with the spirit of him that is Mercy and Love. We are all in this together. It is time to learn... and time to accept... a time to help one another... amen. Joshua Peter Weisner
silentreign79@gmail.com