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

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Inept Deceipt in the Inspired Version? The Problem with Errant Assumptions

Here's a friendly inquiry abut differences in the Book of Mormon and the "Inspired Version" of the Bible from someone who I don't think was really looking for an answer:
The outrageous mistakes that Joseph Smith made, in presuming that he could translate the Bible, were, simply, that the Bible scriptures used from the KJV in the BOM, supposedly the most correct book on the face of the earth, prior to Smith's Inspired Version of the Bible (parts of which are currently annotated in the LDS Bible) grossly contradict Smith's translation of the New Testament. How is it that the BOM does not match the JST? For example, take 1 Nephi 14:6, Matt. 7:6, 3 Nephi 13:25-27, Matt. 6:25-27. Smith should have known that this deception would catch-up with him, but I don't really think he cared, for he lived in a very delusional world. After he wrote the BOM, he couldn't go back and change what he had written when he rendered a bogus translation of the Bible. What sophistry can you come up with to explain away what is clear proof that Smith was a charlatan? Yet, you are quite an expert at sophistry and have made many people believe that what is as black as sin is as white and pure as the driven snow. I am quite curious to hear your explanation for this.
Hmm, Joseph Smith the careless deceiver didn't even notice that his changes in the Bible didn't match the changes in the Book of Mormon? Are these difference sufficient for us to expose him as a fraud--and a very inept one at that?

There are some assumptions built into this question. One assumption is that that the Inspired Version is a restoration of original scripture. Did Joseph ever say that? This work was not completed and not canonized, but is treated as a helpful study aid. Many LDS writers examining the work-in-progress that Joseph left us with his "translation" of the Bible see it as containing not just corrections or restorations of material but also added explanatory material that we need not imagine was meant to convey the original words of ancient prophets and apostles, but may help clarify their meaning. In addition to mistakenly assuming the Inspired Version to be a complete, perfect Urtext, a less questionable assumption is that the authors of the Book of Mormon should have been citing the pure text that Joseph restored.

The fact that Joseph wasn't troubled by differences in the Inspired Version and related Book of Mormon passages is not clearcut evidence of totally inept fraud, but should be a clue about what his exercise meant.

So our critic expects us to roll over an reject Joseph because what may be clarifying commentary in his work-in-progress with the Bible wasn't also added to the Book of Mormon (at least not before he was killed). Sure, you can reject Joseph over that, but it's not an impressive argument, in my opinion.

We live in a mortal world where lots of things are imperfect, including the Church and any edition so far of the Book of Mormon. An almost fundamentalist expectation that everything fit together to suit our assumptions and logic can be a quick way toward disappointment. Stepping back and taking a slightly more flexible and open-minded, inquiring approach makes a lot more sense to me.

A related question is on my LDSFAQ page (Mormon Answers) about apparent problems in the Book of Mormon.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

As an active member of the church, it troubles me that so many members of the church do believe that the JST is a restoration of an urtext which in some cases supplants the Bible. I read the JST the way that you suggest, Jeff, because that's what works for me, but what did Joseph Smith himself say about it? Did he ever explicitly say that he was merely clarifying the text rather than restoring lost words?

The Book of Mormon says that the record of the Jews (the Bible) comes from the Jews in purity to the Gentiles, but the Gentiles alter it, taking away many plain and precious truths (1Nephi 13:25, 28-29). Joseph Smith began his Bible translation project soon after finishing the Book of Mormon. It's understandable that many Mormons think that he was restoring the plain and precious truths that the Gentiles removed from the Bible, or in other words, that he was restoring some of the purity that the Bible had before the Gentiles got hold of it. That suggests more than merely clarifying existing text; it suggests a restoration of lost text.

Anonymous said...

Some of the Inspired Version is canonized: the Book of Moses. Is it restoration of original scripture or not? If it's a restoration, why isn't the rest of the Inspired Version also a restoration? How do we decide which parts of the Inspired Version are restoration and which parts aren't? If it's not restoration of original scripture, then what is it?

The Book of Moses contains too many anachronisms to be restored original. For example, Moses 7:22 says that the seed of Cain were black and didn't mix with the other descendants of Adam. This is obviously influenced by the 19th century Protestant belief that black people are descendants of Cain. It also reflects an early Mormon belief that the seed of Cain can be reliably recognized by skin color, a biological non sequitur which would not have occurred to people living in Moses' time. (Yes, I know, the statement that Cain's descendants are black does not imply that all black people are descendants of Cain, but try telling that to early Mormon leaders. Verse 22 clearly suggests that Cain's seed was distinguishable from the rest of Adam's seed on the basis of skin color.)

NM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zerabp said...

@anon 2

Actually that is in no way an anachronism as that "protestant belief" was held by all Christianity and Judaism because that's exactly what genesis says.

The mistake comes with people assuming that because Cains seed were black skinned (easily accomplished if Cain had sexual relations with black women)that all people with black skin are his descendants.

Considering we know that all humanity does have a common relative (whether you believe genesis or not) it's not so hard to understand why Moses would validate his beliefs in Adam and Eve by providing an explanation of those who are darker skinned.

It would be hard for him to not assume that Adam and Eve were the same skin color as his people (who were nor are by any means white which is how modern worshipers tend to view Adam and Eve).

So if it is an anachronism it is one put there by Moses (the one traditionally viewed as having written Genesis.)not Joseph or the protestants as the view has existed for as long as the Old testament traditions have.

NM said...

Just read your most recent post, and I'm deleting a prior comment as the website I linked to is what you may consider anti-mormon. Apologies...

Anonymous said...

@ zerabp:

Where in Genesis does it say that Cain had a black skin? It doesn't, so don't blame the Jews for this idea. The Bible only says that Cain had a mark, and it doesn't say that the mark was hereditary, nor does it say that the mark was on his skin. Joseph Smith supplied a revelation which echoed a widely held Protestant belief that the seed of Cain had black skin. The Book of Moses doesn't say explicitly that the mark and black skin are one in the same, but it does suggest that skin color distinguished Cain's seed from the rest of humanity. The Bible concerns itself with lineages and tribes, but it has nothing at all to say about skin color as a feature of race or lineage. The society in which Joseph Smith lived was much more preoccupied with race and skin color. Hence the anachronism.

Cindy said...

To answer your questions about what Joseph said about his work:

Mormon scholar Reed Connell Durham, Jr., in his Ph.D. dissertation for Brigham Young University titled “A History of Joseph Smith’s Revision of the Bible,” provides the following reasons Smith had for revising the text of Scripture.

1. The corrupted state of the existing King James Bible and the need to correct the errors it contained

2. The revelations Joseph received made it clear to him “that many important points touching the Salvation of man, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled.”

3. God specifically commanded Joseph Smith to undertake the task.

If these statements are true, especially if Joseph said that God commanded him to perform this work, then the JST should be held to the same, highest level of evaluation to which any scripture is subject.

mkprr said...

Jeff, thanks for this post and thanks again for bringing up topics that are important but that we seldom hear discussed. The differences in the BOM and the JST at one time bothered me a lot. In addition to Jeff’s comments on the subject I recommend for anyone perplexed by this issue to look up Bible.cc or bible gateway. There you can read dozens of English translations of the same passage. If you take some time to read through some passages you’ll notice that most of them vary, and some of them vary significantly and that the alternate versions can be helpful in understanding what is going on.

As I understand it, the variations aren’t necessarily because one translation is good and the others are bad. There are very often different ways to accurately translate many words and phrases. Also, some modern bible translations make an attempt to portray the meaning of the passage instead of a word for word translation recognizing that many idioms familiar to ancient Jews might not be familiar to today’s generation and could be misleading. I think understanding these facts about translation will give us at least part of the answer as to how two passages (BOM and JST) can differ and still both be accurate portrayals of the original author’s intent. Understanding this has helped me out and has turned what once was a stumbling block, into a new source of greater incite and understanding in the scriptures.

Cindy said...

It used to bother me too that there were so many Bible translations as I worried that the real meaning would be lost. As it turns out, though there may be different words used for various translations, the meaning of the Bible stays true.

The trouble I have with the JST version is that it alters the meaning of the verses...sometimes to the point of presenting the opposite of what was originally written.

(see my blog for an example, http://perceptionsofchrist.blogspot.com/)

mkprr said...

Cindy,
I think you may have misunderstood my intentions here, but I don’t blame you. I am always struggling to keep comments short, yet still try to explain what I am thinking and it doesn’t always turn out so well :)

I am well aware that many JST passages are completely different than any other bible translation. This is no surprise to someone who understands Joseph Smith to be a restoration prophet. What I meant to convey is that when a BOM passage matches the Bible and then the JST alters the same passage from the Bible and renders it differently from the BOM, in those cases it seems evident that both translations are correct. The JST may be adding incite or clarification, or it may be using a different synonym for clarification much like alternate Bible translations can be different but still both good and accurate.

Clear as mud? I can give examples if what I’m saying still seems confusing.
Thanks!

Cindy said...

Same for me...as far as clarification goes. Different translations that keep the intention of the verse are really pretty interesting. But changing the Bible doesn't necessarily equal restoration.

Zerabp said...

@ anon
You saying the Jews didn't traditionally hold the view that the mark was of skin color doesn't unfortunately for your argument, make it so. So kindly point me to one ancient source that discusses the mark in a manner other than skin tone. I can tell you that there wasn't much mention of it being a skin tone because it was the commonly held view and it also didn't matter as Hebrews don't/didn't accept the idea of original sin so it was unimportant to them or early Christianity.

You see luckily us Mormons don't believe in the concept of original sin either. Not in any way shape or form, so it wouldn't matter if the bible flat out spelled it out that the mark was a darkened skin, or flat out spelled out that it wasn't because Cains sin, is Cains sin not his heirs.

Unfortunately our Prophets after Smith (who without any doubt ordained those of African descent to the priesthood, yep he sure was preoccupied by race (sic))had problems leaving their Protestant and Hebrew traditions fully behind them, and I fully believe it was a mistake that the priesthood ban was enacted ( this is solely my opinion and if the Church were to tell me it is wrong and why it was wrong I would gladly consider prayerfully changing my view to my previous view on the matter.), as there is no firm evidence it originated with Joseph Smith and now we know today there is much evidence to the contrary, which again hurts your view of a Joseph with racial preoccupations inserting an anachronistic view of the verses.

zerabp said...

@Cindy

The reason we cannot hold the JST to the same standard is because we don't know what constituted changes he was going to make in his final version vs notes or clarifications that were for his personal benefit and not to necessarily be included in his body of the text.

Anonymous said...

@ zerabp

Let me refer you back to your earlier argument: "that 'protestant belief' was held by all Christianity and Judaism because that's exactly what genesis says." Your premise: Genesis says that the mark of Cain was skin color. Your conclusion: all Christianity and Judaism share that belief. Despite learning that your premise was false, you steadfastly adhere to your conclusion. Why?

You said: "So kindly point me to one ancient source that discusses the mark in a manner other than skin tone." OK, I point you to Genesis. No mention of "skin tone." Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, chapter 2, discusses the mark, again without mention of skin tone. The Zohar, a 13th century Jewish book, discusses it without mention of skin color.

You said, "I can tell you that there wasn't much mention of it being a skin tone because it was the commonly held view.…" If it wasn't much mentioned, how did it become the commonly held view? More significantly, if it wasn't much mentioned, how do you know that it was the commonly held view? This is a terrible argument. I could use it to justify lack of documentation for any early belief. Example: the mark of Cain was a letter M on his shoulder; there isn't much documentation for this because it was a commonly held belief.

You said, "You see luckily us Mormons don't believe in the concept of original sin either. Not in any way shape or form…" No, just cursed lineages (Abraham 1:25-27).

By the way, attributing to Moses the portions of the Genesis account which occur in the Book of Moses (see Moses 1:40-41) is another anachronism. Moses didn't write them. See "Who Wrote the Bible?" by Richard Elliott Friedman.

zerabp said...

@anon
1 I know Moses didn't write Genesis the problem is that's who it traditionally attributed to and there is only speculation on who the actual author or authors was so your reference to "Who wrote the bible?" Is as irrelevant as a book that can and does offer only conjecture on subject completely where it's completely impossible to provide significant validation on it.

Now for the rest of your argument which is simply well, to put it frankly foolish. Insinuating that a lack of mention of the mark being skin tone means that it wasn't thought to be so is like saying because the bible say nothing of DNA that I can't believe it's real if I believe the bible because "it not mentioned."

I even pointed out why it's not mentioned already, because it was a traditionally held view by all. When something is considered general knowledge such as how the ancients viewed the mark, they don't specify because they have a reasonable expectation that their audience already knows what they are talking about.

In other words a lack of specificity followed by tracing the roots of the protestant belief prove my point and speaks against yours. For example if you read the different first vision accounts some details are left out in some and included in others. The Hebrew scriptures were for the Hebrews of that time period who contrary to you being able to find one source that says the mark Isn't skin tone and assuming that a lack of mention means that it wasn't.

The reason you can't find a reference specifically stating what the mark of Cain was is because it was common knowledge that it was skin tone, can I prove this no but try and trace back this belief and you'll find that it definitely did not start with protestants, follow it through Catholicism the Pre-Reformation era, and you find it goes further back. When you get back to the Early Christians you find mostly Jews who accepted Christ's role as the Messiah yet this tradition was held not from anything in the new Testament but from the traditions they had learned, which all spawned from the oral and written traditions of the old testament. In other words far from an anachronism.

As a final note the Zohar isn't in any stretch considered ancient and is in no way common Judaic thought. Kabahlists are generally considered apostate for lack of a better word by greater Judaic tradition.

zerabp said...

Since you missed used the LDS Scripture to say something they don't Say I'll adress it seperately.

As for your Book of Abraham reference the Priesthood UNTIL the modern day was ALWAYS limited to certain lineages. While we don't know what that was in Hams day and since it (the common guess is because Ham turned from his father Noah's ways of worship Despite remaining righteous thus cutting his seed off from the rites of the Priesthood as viewed by Noah's other descendants until only Abraham remained as a Priest in the Adamic/Enochian/Noahen tradition. The lineage wasn't cursed nor does the reference you gave say they were it simply says he was not of a lineage to which the priesthood was available. From Abraham to Israel the priesthood is only passed from father to Son and some time after Israel and through Moses and onward only the Levites could hold and administer in the Priesthood. Considering all the Tribes were still the chosen people that hardly speaks to a curse being the cause of Hams lineage being denied the priesthood. If you accept Jesus Christ as a messiah it was him who finally after his resurrection who removed the restrictions on lineage, again none of the other lineages were cursed but for whatever reason God chose to limit it even among believers let alone those who like in the verses you mentioned had fallen into idolatry.

It's generally wise not to add context that doesn't exist it destroys your argument.

zerabp said...

Sorry for the grammar errors etc I was up all night last night and all day today taking care of my girls.

catholic defender said...

Hi All,

As some of you know, I adhere to the Douay Rhiems translation of the Bible, which is somewhat a contemporary of the KJV, but tends to be a much more accurate translation, at least in my opinion. If you compare the two of them, you will find that the general substance of what is said is the same. In many instances, the wording is the same, but not in all. Part of the differences in the translation of the two though, stems from the sources that were used.

The Douay Rhiems translations stems from the Latin Vulgate, which dates back quite a few years, but remained consistent. The KJV in my view is a suspect translation to begin with, because of the history in England at the time that translation was made. Part of the issue with the KJV is that it was translated at a time when the king and the pope were in dispute, and some of what is in the KJV was influenced by that dispute. If this is true, then when JS begins his translation of the KJV Bible, he's starting with a flawed version of the Bible.

That the KJV might be a flawed translation to start, would support JS claims that he was restoring the plain and precious truths that had been removed. However, where I see a problem here, is that JS doesn't seem to have correct the original mistranslations contained in the KJV, but instead keeps those mistranslations, and adds new words. To me that seems suspect.

Add to that, the fact that the words JS adds to the KJV are at times directly contradictory to those words contained in the Douay Rhiems translations, and I think, the JS Translation becomes even more problematic and suspect. But then add the fact that the LDS church doesn't wholeheartedly endorse the JS Translation, and I see it as even more problematic. The unwillingness to endorse the JST, suggests that even the LDS church is concerned about the contradictions. I see that as a problem.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Anonymous said...

@ zerabp

"I know Moses didn't write Genesis the problem is that's who it traditionally attributed to and there is only speculation on who the actual author…" Moses 1:40-41 clearly implies that Moses is the author of what follows. That's a problem because, as you agree, Moses didn't write it.

"Insinuating that a lack of mention of the mark being skin tone means that it wasn't thought to be so is like saying because the bible say nothing of DNA that I can't believe it's real if I believe the bible because 'it not mentioned.'" This is a false analogy. A true analogy would be the argument that because the Bible doesn't mention DNA, there's no reason to credit early Jews with believing in it. See the difference? By the way, characterizing my argument as "frankly foolish" is pretty rich coming from someone that only recently discovered that Genesis doesn't say what she always thought it says. I'd expect a little more class in the face of embarrassment.

"The reason you can't find a reference specifically stating what the mark of Cain was is because it was common knowledge that it was skin tone,…" You know this how?

"but try and trace back this belief and you'll find that it definitely did not start with protestants," Is that what you did? John Wesley and Mark Henry both wrote that they did not know what the mark of Cain was, and any effort to identify it is "vain."

"When you get back to the Early Christians you find mostly Jews who accepted Christ's role as the Messiah yet this tradition was held not from anything in the new Testament but from the traditions they had learned,…" Archbishop of Caesaria Basil in a letter to Bishop Optimus discusses the mark of Cain and doesn't say that it was skin color. The first epistle of Clement to the Corinthians likewise. Origen said that none of Cain's descendants survived the Flood, so obviously he wasn't attributing southern Saharan skin color to descent from Cain.

I agree that the Zohar isn't ancient, but it goes against your claim that "all Judaism" shared the belief about the mark being skin color. As a Mormon, you should appreciate the arbitrariness of picking and choosing which traditions are considered "apostate." If the belief about skin color was so widely held in Judaism, why doesn't the Zohar bother to refute it in support of its own claims that it was something else?

So I'm misusing the scripture, am I? Abr 1:24 "from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land." What curse was that? Abr 1:26 "Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood." Abr 1:27 "Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, " So to summarize, Ham was cursed with regard to the priesthood, his descendant Pharaoh couldn't have the priesthood because he was of Ham's lineage, and Ham's descendants preserved the "curse" in the land. But according to you, "The lineage wasn't cursed…" Right. You say that the Priesthood was always restricted to certain lineages (where do the scriptures say that this was the case prior to Ham?) and that Pharaoh wasn't cursed, he just didn't belong to the right lineage. That's a pretty tortured argument. Take a look at the scripture. It clearly indicates that the right to the priesthood was restricted only from Ham's lineage, and it calls that a curse. It's more accurate to say "restricted from a certain lineage." Restriction "to a lineage" didn't begin until the Levites, and if you know about Moses not writing Genesis, then perhaps you also know what that was all about as well.

"it simply says he was not of a lineage to which the priesthood was available." No, it doesn't. See above.

afstrub said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alexander said...

I'd just like to make an important distinction regarding the scripture being discussed in some of these comments.

The scripture in question is Moses 7:22.

"And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them."

The assumption people some people seem to be making here is that the term "black" refers to skin color, when there is nothing actually in the text to indicate that supposition.

We are simply told that the descendants of Cain were black. Now when our 20th/21st century ears hear the adjective "black," we immediately think of it as a racial indicator. However, "black" was not the most common racial adjective for people of sub-Saharan African descent in Joseph Smith's day--terms like "colored" or "negro" would have been much more prevalent.

I am a graduate student in the field of history, and one of the first rules of the trade is to make sure we do not project our modern-day terminology onto older sources. That is akin to putting words in their mouths.

But why then use the term "black," if not to describe their racial characteristics?

As an exercise, I consulted the dictionary for definitions of the word "black," which revealed some very interesting insights.

While "having dark skin, hair, and eyes" is indeed one of the many definitions in Webster's Dictionary, others include:

* "characterized by the absence of light"

* "thoroughly sinister or evil: wicked"

* "indicative of condemnation or discredit"

* "connected with or invoking the supernatural and especially the devil"

* "characterized by hostility or angry discontent"

Based on the rest of text of the Book of Moses, all of these additional definitions can easily be seen as describing the descendants of Cain perfectly.

Might we not postulate that these are the intended definitions of the term "black" in this instance, instead of seeing a 20th century racial term in a 19th century text?

Anonymous said...

@ Alexander

Yeah, it was just a matter of time before somebody made your argument. It's not impossible that you're right, but it seems unlikely. Some of Joseph Smith's contemporaries like Brigham Young did use the word "black" to describe people of African descent, and they also believed that the seed of Cain were distinguished by black skin. See for example Journal of Discourses, vol 7, p 290. Another example: Parley P. Pratt speaking of William McCary said that he "was a black man with the blood of Ham in him which lineage was cursed as regards the priesthood". That was in 1847. It's pretty clear that Pratt meant to use the word in a racial context. One can always reinterpret scripture in a more favorable light, but interpreting "black" as referring to skin color isn't exclusively 20th century.

zerabp said...

@ Anon

First I'm Male
Zera= Hebrew word meaning seed, with Hebrew certain words are used to connotate masculine or feminine seed is always a masculine.

Second I'm thirty years old and have known everything we've been discussing since my teenage years I know a foolish argument from experience and trying to insinuate inexperience without knowing the experience that person had is always a poor and foolish argument making it all the more laughable that you find it laughable based on false assumptions that you made.

After this post I'm done I don't deal with those who are intellectually dishonest or those who intentionally take things well out of context.

Moses insinuate that it as a part of Genesis was written by Moses. This does not make it any more or less accountable to the Claim then Genesis itself. As it stands the nature of the Book of Moses vs the Book of Genesis can still be argued As one has passed through the oral tradition until it was written with the attribution to Moses, one purports to be a restoration of the actual writing and saying of Moses through divine inspiration. I believe it is divinely inspired restoration, you don't. I believe that though Genesis was not written by Moses that a good bit of it can be traced back to him. Unfortunately the nature of Oral Tradition means that a lot of it will have come in after him and will be indistinguishable from anything he may have originally said. With the book of Moses we don't have that problem we either accept it as what it is claimed to be or we do not. Their are numerous evidences for one to take either standpoint. You have chosen one I have chosen another let's leave it at that.

Yes you are taking it out of context still and your argument didn't even address the points I made, in my experience when someone ignores evidence when it's given they aren't interested in truth, rather they are invested highly in one point of view. You've again ignored any of my counterpoints and only tried to drill in your original argument. Repeating something over and over does not make it true.

If you are a student of History you may want to remove you're modern lens, as no amount of degrees or study in the subject will mean a thing if you don't try to view it the way those who experienced it did.

No doubt in your mind you've won because I won't continue a fruitless argument, good luck with that...

Alexander said...

There's simply nothing in the text itself to substantiate a purely racial interpretation.

We know that some have interpreted it that way, but there is no official church stance on the matter.

The Journal of Discourses and random statements by general authorities through the years do not constitute official church canon.

Anonymous said...

I'm not suggesting that these random statements are canonical, but they go against your claim that the racial interpretation is a 20th century invention.

No official church stance on the matter? Not now, but the most likely motivation for the priesthood ban were these scriptures.

Anonymous said...

Given that so many Americans prior to Joseph Smith and some of his contemporaries believed that black skin was the mark of Cain, Joseph could not have been unaware of this belief. If he didn't intend for "black" to refer to a racial characteristic, do you think that maybe he could have chosen some other word to describe the seed of Cain in Moses 7:22? One that wouldn't lead to so much confusion and misery for millions of people? One that wouldn't cause his poor unenlightened successors to stumble?

Alexander said...

As a believing Mormon, I don't think Joseph Smith chose the wording at all. At least, I don't think he believed the wording of the scriptures he received by revelation was up for tampering, even by him.

Anonymous said...

Even better. If "black" wasn't meant to refer to a racial characteristic, why wouldn't the omniscient Lord choose a synonym in Moses 7:22 that wouldn't a) reinforce an already extant belief that the mark of Cain was black skin and b) cause later generations of Mormons to unnecessarily withhold temple blessings from people simply because of their skin color?

Alexander said...

Heh, whenever an argument descends into defining God's motives it is swiftly getting derailed.

Why does God do anything? Why have the Israelites butcher women and children on numerous occasions? Why allow His Son to die on the cross? Why permit disease, suffering and evil in the world?

Conjecturing on divine motives is pointless.

Anonymous said...

Those are all reasonable questions. What derails the argument is the inability of the true believer to answer them without relinquishing certain claims about God. Did God have the Israelites butcher women and children, or did their leaders have them do it and blame it on God? Which is more likely? It's amazing that believers would rather impugn God than prophets.

Anonymous said...

@Zerabp

Sorry about the gender confusion. I was thinking of Zera from Image Comics. Still am.

Do I think I've won? Believe it or not, I prefer a conversation over a contest, but you make that very difficult. You made a factually incorrect claim to support your position, and when I corrected you, you were already so invested in a game of one-upmanship that you replaced it with an untenable claim about an ancient, unbroken oral tradition which wasn't set down on paper until the 1830's. You also invented a reason to explain why there's no evidence to support your claim. The intellectually honest thing to have done would be to reconsider your position in light of the fact that your original claim was false. Your calling me intellectually dishonest is classical projection. So are your accusations about using repetition and ignoring arguments.

Have I ignored any evidence that you've presented? You haven't presented any. On the other hand, I've presented actual quotations and references. The only context missing from any of them is the harmonization/rationalization that exists inside your head. I present the plain meaning of the scriptures. You twist them to say things they don't.

Let's momentarily take a bird's eye view of what you're saying: the belief that the mark of Cain was black skin is an authentic, ancient tradition from Moses. By including it in the Book of Moses, Joseph Smith was restoring something, but that something is itself a false belief (unless of course you maintain that the mark actually was black skin, which I don't think you do). So revelation can be used to restore a false belief. Of course, this belief was never really lost because it was the world's oldest unwritten tradition. Joseph Smith just restored to the text something that everybody around him already knew.