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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Its … It's So Easy to Overlook--Another Test Related to Language in the Original Book of Mormon

In my previous post, I looked at the use of the word be in the earliest text of the Book of Mormon in a test to look for unique elements of New England dialect that might account for some of the non-KJV grammar that is non-standard today. My findings appears to be consistent with the views of Carmack and Skousen regarding Early Modern English (EModE) influence in the text, and showed no readily discernible signs of post-EModE New England dialect in the usage of be. However, in exploring this topic, I ran into an interesting issue that offers another possible test to identify early vs. late English influences. The results may pose a challenge to models of Book of Mormon translation based on EModE as the dominant or sole influence (though I don't think anyone is arguing that it's the sole influence).

In "Grammar in Early Modern English" by Edmund Weiner, deputy chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, I read that the word its, the ubiquitous English third-person possessive of the pronoun it, is a relatively recent innovation that first appeared in print in 1590 and then rapidly took off. Before that precious invention came along, people would use other terms like thereof or his. While Carmack has pointed out that the text is not monolithic and not strictly confined to any one period in time, still, if the Book of Mormon text is primarily influenced by EModE from before the KJV era, then we might expect its to be less common in the BOM than in the KJV. However, the opposite is found. The word its occurs over 40 times in the Earliest Text, but only once in the KJV (Lev. 25:5).

The problem was ameliorated by looking in the OED itself (see OED Online entry on Its) and seeing that its is actually attested even earlier than 1590: 1577 R. Robinson Certain Select Hist. Christian Recreations sig. B.vii, There stands a bedde, its death to tell.

1598 J. Florio Worlde of Wordes Spontaneamente, willingly,..of himselfe, of his free will, for its owne sake [1611 of free will or of it's owne sake].

1599 Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet ii. v. 12 The sweetest honey Is loathsome in its owne deliciousnesse.

1603 J. Florio in tr. Montaigne Ess. i. Ep. Ded. sig. A3v, My weaknesse you might bidde doe it's best.
Finding its in print in 1577 gives us more leeway for its use as a legitimate pre-KJV EModE word. Note also that the Book of Mormon still uses thereof much more than its, about four times as often. I suspect that this ratio may be uncharacteristically low for EModE and may represent the intrusion of more modern English into the translation process. Carmack does not argue that the BOM is pure EModE, but argues that it is a complex, non-monolithic mix with a little modern English and a good deal of Early Modern English (see Stanford Carmack, "Why the Oxford English Dictionary (and not Webster’s 1828)," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 15 (2015): 65-77).

The paucity of its in the KJV is surprising to me. Of course, one could ask why, if the Book of Mormon is based on slavishly imitating KJV language, does it use its at all? But of course, careful analysis of the text has already shown it often departs strongly from the KJV language in many ways. While those departures often include authentic Early Modern English, there are elements of modern English and even a touch of Middle English, as Carmack demonstrates. It is not a simple, monolithic text. As for the word its, its presence could theoretically be consistent with the EModE era but could also be an intrusion of modern English in the text.

Personally, I can accept the idea that there was a base translation of some kind that could be accessed by Joseph Smith in preparing the translation. But since he was obviously willing to make corrections to the dictated text, I suppose he could have used some of his own phrasing at times in the dictation as well. To me, it's impossible to remove human influence in this effort. We see the human influence in the original manuscript, the printer's manuscript, the printed text, and the many revisions to the text that we have today. Why assume the human influence wasn't there as the text was being dictated, even though there was a divine engine driving the whole project? We really don't know how the translation process worked, and need to be open to many difference possibilities as we dig more deeply into the language and other evidences that help highlight the complex origins of a fascinating and divine text that, like all scripture, has gone through many human hands (and lips).

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

You can't have it both ways, Jeff. The Book of Mormon is supposed to be pure and simple and delivered from god's lips to Joseph's hat. Here you're adding complexity that few members of the church ever learn about, nor would they ever admit to. How can it be the most correct book when there's so much complex evidence of contemporary sources that surely influenced Joseph's authorship? Joseph's adoption and assimilation of biblical mistranslations is enough to give any honest investigator pause.
The phrase "straining at gnats" comes to mind with posts like these.

Anonymous said...

"Carmack ...argues that it is a complex, non-monolithic mix with a little modern English and a good deal of Early Modern English"

"often include authentic Early Modern English, there are elements of modern English and even a touch of Middle English"

" I suppose he (Smith) could have used some of his own phrasing at times in the dictation as well"

Jeff, this is getting amusingly fascinating. Over previous, multiple posts you've made this case for miraculous EModE in the BOM. As you've continued down this rabbit hole, the only real evidence we're left with is the BOM author(s) used a mish mash form of "bible sounding" English. It's interesting how you've painted yourself into a corner and are now searching for an escape hatch

Glenn Thigpen said...

Anonymous #1 and #2. The "complex evidence" is not of contemporary sources. The evidence is of sources that actually predate the KJV and contain many linguistic elements not contained in the KJV. This reduces dramatically the chances that the Book of Mormon is a mish mash of Biblical sounding English, which is one of the points that Dr. Carmack is making. Dr. Carmack's research has failed to find any contemporary texts accessible to Joseph which contained the EmodE types of grammatical constructs found in the Book of Mormon.
It has been suggested by some critics that the EmodE found in the Book of Mormon is from frozen artifacts found the language of Joseph's New England environment. Jeff is attempting to test this hypothesis by looking for such artifacts and then checking to see if they appear in the Book of Mormon. That approach has some merit.
another approach that could possibly bear fruit would be to check through any written material that can reliably be traced back to Joseph during the period of time of the Book of Mormon production to see if any of his secular texts contained such expressions. also, checking letters, diaries, etc. of the "common" people of the time and region to see if any of the EmodE artifacts found in the Book of Mormon show up in those texts. If the frozen artifact theory is correct, at least some of the EmodE grammar found in the Book of Mormon should show up in texts by people that were contemporaries of Joseph and lived in the New England region.

Glenn

Anonymous said...

Glen, you're assuming the BoM is entirely a EModE text which is not what Jeff or Carmack are contending.

They've both said it themselves:
"Carmack has pointed out that the text is not monolithic and not strictly confined to any one period in time"
"Book of Mormon translation based on EModE as the dominant or sole influence (though I don't think anyone is arguing that it's the sole influence"
"it is a complex, non-monolithic MIX with a LITTLE modern English and a GOOD DEAL of Early Modern English"
"...often include authentic Early Modern English, there are ELEMENTS of modern English and even A TOUCH of Middle English"


Early Modern English, modern English and Middle English??
That my friend is a mish mash

Anonymous said...

Anon 727: The bulk of the earliest text of the BofM is EModE. Period. You can call it a mish mash if you want, but since the vast majority is EModE, and quite a bit of it is not found in the KJB, the statistics simply say that no proposed author of the BofM as fraudulent fiction could have achieved it. Doesn't matter what it's called. The critic will call it a mish mash or sthg else, the EModE apologist will call it sthg neutral. Again the critic is the one who is more biased. Neither Skousen nor Carmack was looking for it, they just found it. The implications are obvious, even to the anti, which is why they are dismissive without studying it carefully.

Anonymous said...

The KJB could be called a mish mash of elements. There's a lot of variation in the text. In fact, what lengthy text isn't a mixture? But if you respect a text you don't scornfully call it a mish mash. Anon 727 doesn't respect the earliest text and has passed judgment on it without even studying it. That position deserves no respect, or is it rspect.

Anonymous said...

The implications are obvious?? Obvious to what? Carmack admits there are at three different styles of English in the BoM, Early Modern, modern and Middle. Jeff concludes God put it there as some ironic joke, I believe the obvious conclusion is Smith was attempting to sound archaic and stumbled over all three styles. It all depends on your own bias.

Anon 802, my position is based on the findings of Carmack, three different styles exist in the text. My position deserves no respect only because you don't agree with it

Orbiting Kolob said...

Anon 8:02 raises some interesting points.

The KJB could be called a mish mash of elements. There's a lot of variation in the text.

True enough. As we all know, or should know, in the case of the KJV the evidence overwhelmingly supports the Documentary Hypothesis, as almost all legitimate Bible scholars now agree. Multiple sources, mish mash -- same thing. (Well, except for the work of the Redactor in skillfully meshing those sources....)

One reason the scholars can come to this agreement is because they have so much more material to work with than we do with the Book of Mormon. For starters, they have ancient manuscripts in the original languages. In the case of the Book of Mormon, we have no such thing. And the Bible was written in languages actually known to exist in the first place (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic), whereas the language of the "original" BoM (Reformed Egyptian) is itself a fiction.

In fact, what lengthy text isn't a mixture?

There are actually entire branches of literary theory based on the idea that all texts are "dialogic" or "intertextual" or what have you (the terms vary). The idea is that no one writes in a vacuum; rather, we write in response to or in dialogue with what others have said and written, and in the process, the language of those others finds its way into our own text. The BoM can pretty easily be shown to be in dialogue with various discourses of the 19th-century United States.

But if you respect a text you don't scornfully call it a mish mash. Depends on what you mean by "respect." I respect the BoM as a fascinating 19th-century document that can tell us all sorts of interesting things about the 19th-century culture in which it was produced. But I can't respect it at all as a source of information about ancient America. Nor can I respect it as a literary work. As a literary work it is just terrible -- vastly inferior to the Bible, vastly inferior even to the novels and stories of the BoM's own time and place. Bad as he was in so many ways, even James Fenimore Cooper (also from upstate New York, also fascinated with Indian mounds and origins) was a far better writer and mythmaker than Joseph Smith.

Nor can I respect the BoM very much for its moral or theological insights, which strike me as derivative and petty -- again vastly inferior to the Bible. (The theology of the King Follett Discourse is another story.)

Anonymous said...

Orbiting: Reformed Egyptian isn't a language, it's a script that represents language, like an alphabet or syllabary. Terms used in the past didn't as clearly differentiate as we're used to today.

Anon 1236: I think you're misrepresenting Carmack's position. It is not three different styles. What he conveys, I think, is that there is a touch of language that could be called Middle English, a little more that could be called modern English, and most, almost all, could be called Early Modern English. Those are not styles but convenient labels. One Middle English element he has written about is "it supposeth me". The only attestation with that simple dative syntax is given by the OED, from a 1390 John Gower poem. His poem was reprinted a few times in the Early Modern era. The language is analogous to other forms, so it can legitimately be called either Middle English or Early Modern English. Skousen has said vocabulary ranges from 1540 to 1740, so any early 18c vocab could be called modern English. There isn't a lot of it in the earliest text, according to Skousen.

I'm sure Jeff doesn't actually think God put old language in the Book of Mormon as some ironic joke. Jeff was just having some fun, but it sounds like you'll even use that remark to cast doubt on the book. And your conclusion that Smith was stumbling because of three different "styles" is wrongheaded. There is so much obscure EModE in the earliest text that statistically speaking he couldn't have stumbled onto it. It simply doesn't matter that there's a little modern English vocab and unaccusative auxiliary usage in the earliest text. The obsolete stuff swamps all of that, rendering it inconsequential except to the dishonest analyst.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1035, as I said before it all depends on your bias. I'm personally biased that Smith was a charlatan starting with his magic rocks used in finding buried treasure. So naturally my opinion of Carmack's findings will differ from a true LDS believer.

We both agree three languages exist in the text as you've pointed out "touch of language that could be called Middle English, a little more that could be called modern English, and most, almost all, could be called Early Modern English" (although neither Carmack nor Jeff have claimed "almost all", but whatever)
My bias views it as problematic as to why God/Moroni/Smith would use all three AT ALL (among a mountain of other things). Your bias views it as "convenient labels." that "simply doesn't matter" (among, I'm assuming a mountain of others things you believe to be true)

everythingbeforeus said...

anon10:35.

Joseph Smith couldn't have stumbled upon it. Okay....I'll grant you that point. Someone needs to explain why it is there then, in a book that was originally written in pre-Columbian American.

This doesn't make sense!

No one seems to have wanted to touch it on the previous thread, but I suggested perhaps Joseph Smith was channeling demonic spirits through his seerstone. That is just as good an conclusion as the conclusion that God put the spirit of some EModE speaker to work on the translation. I wonder if the deceased who lived wicked and demonic lives can get involved in human affairs.

Weren't the Israelites warned repeatedly against Necromancy? What if some wicked 16th Century Englishman was channeled through the seerstone?

What if....

Crazy...I know. But if Tyndale can do it, like some people are saying, I don't see why it is really all that crazy.

Anonymous said...

Well, Brigham Young once said, (I think it was Brigham) that either God or the Devil wrote the Book of Mormon, but that no man had done so.

Glad to see you joining Brigham, everthingbeforeus. If the choice is God or the Devil, then it's clear that it was God, as the book pushes everyone to Christ far more than the Devil would ever do.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Anon @ 8:38 said:
Jeff, this is getting amusingly fascinating. ... It's interesting how you've painted yourself into a corner and are now searching for an escape hatch

Anon, there is no corner here. I am interested in understanding the origins of the dictated text. Since the Book of Mormon is an important book that has affected millions, it's origins ought to be of interest to many. I'm interested in understanding the process of creating that earliest text, as dictated from Joseph's lips. I long assumed it was dictated in his personal dialect coupled with KJV language. If what was dictated, to our surprise, turns out to be something else (that's what Carmack and Skousen are showing), it's worth knowing and is interesting.

Consider what we are learning. In a few dozen days, a poorly educated young man on the frontier spewed out hundreds of pages text. We don't know how he did it except from what witnesses say. All agree that there was no text he was consulting. There is no evidence of a team of scholars. Didn't even use a Bible when dictating quotations therefrom. But what he dictated appears to be much different that what we can explain by an appeal to New England dialect + KJV verbiage. Unlike others of his day who prepared texts in KJV language, Joseph's text preserves a large number of EModE elements showing EModE command syntax, characteristic EModE use of did in ways that were hard to even recognize prior to computerized tools, non-KJV EModE phrases like "if it so be" used consistently, etc. There's a fingerprint in the language that provides compelling evidence for something other than what we all though was going on, something besides Joseph just giving us an embarrassing text rich in his own hick dialect, loaded with grammatical errors that needed fixing, many of which he fixed himself. To learn now that these mistakes are actually acceptable EModE grammar raises all sorts of questions, and it's fair to ask if it's real, if it could just be a quirk of his dialect, etc. It's not a corner, it's a whole new field, and much remains to be dug up to understand what's there.

The truthfulness of the book does not necessarily depend on how he did the translation, for there are many possible ways he theoretically could have given us a divinely inspired text based on the gold plates. Could have been in his own dialect, KJV English, Ebonics, whatever. But it's important nonetheless for those of us who are interested in its origins. If they end up being miraculous, that is cool and highly ironic, as I've said, given that the grammatical flaws in the original text seemed like a weakness and a problem. Now maybe not. Now maybe it's even a strength--pending the results of further testing and analysis.

Not only do we have a text dictated at a breakneck speed maintaining consistent, accurate EMoDE elements, but it also gives us subtle and sometimes brilliant Hebraisms, such as we find in the numerous word plays on names and also some of the awkward grammar that had to be fixed, like the "if .. and" pattern, Captain Moroni waving the "rent" of a garment in the air, etc. - bad English grammar, but great Semitic grammar that may have survived a sometimes tight translation process, giving us tidbits of possible evidence for the authenticity of the text in things we long thought were flaws.

Maybe those elements are accidental and meaningless. Or are they fruits of a secret team of highly-funded scholars to give us perplexing EModE content and Hebraisms? Or maybe it's just the result of Joseph's hidden passion for Early Modern English manuscripts and complete memorization of the Bible? Whatever theory you like, it should address the data about what the text actually has. It's more than just a random mishmash, IMO. It's puzzling and complex, and I'm not sure where the data will lead in the end. But let's see what the data have to offer.

Jeff Lindsay said...


In this round I didn't see evidence pointing to New England dialect. But maybe in the end we'll find New England dialect arises in certain kinds of sentences or elements -- maybe in the use of modal verbs, for example -- while EModE perhaps governs in command forms, many uses of the past tense, and in a wide variety of verbs. Maybe we'll see modern English in the use of "its" and other third person singular situations. I'm not sure what we'll learn, but in the end, we may better understand what was going on in Joseph's head as he dictated words to his scribes. That new learning is not likely to be decisive on the issue of whether the book is true or not, or whether there was divine revelation or something else going on before he spoke what he spoke to his scribes. But either way, there is a need to pursue these questions and understand what we can from the Earliest Text of the Book of Mormon.

Jeff Lindsay said...

If the existence of pre-KJV EModE persists in ways that cannot be explained as coming from Joseph's dialect and his boyhood reading of EModE comic books or whatever they did for fun on the farm, then we may need to at least weigh the suggestions Skousen and Carmack have made, namely, that the pre-KJV markers in the text point to something beyond Joseph Smith's abilities. Of course, some of us already see abundant evidence of that (e.g., the incredible finds in the Arabian Peninsula in support of the authenticity of First Nephi 16 and 17 far beyond the ability of Joseph to fabricate). However such markers were generated and whatever purpose they have, they could tell us something important about the origins of the text, or at least help us in these days to plausibly rule out some possibilities. That's progress. But let's see where this goes.

everythingbeforeus said...

Anon 2:09

That's right,...it couldn't be a Satanic deception because Satan only wants to trick people into murdering and fornicating and participating in creepy rituals in the woods. And you can always know the Devil is deceiving you because it will feel so yucky. Satan would never deceive by making you feel good. That is how we can always be certain, right?

The Bible warns of false Christs. I think the most effective false Christ would be one who "walks like a duck and quacks like a duck," but which isn't, ultimately, a duck at all. Paul says that we should reject any gospel other than the one already taught. That gospel tells us that if we take upon ourselves a law, we must live it perfectly or we are condemned by it. The law is a curse.

But Joseph Smith says in D&C 88 that we are preserved, protected, sanctified, and justified by the law. And in the temple, you take upon yourself a law, and you covenant to live up to it completely or else be in Satan's power.

The entire religion hinges upon the Book of Mormon. Even though it teaches a basic Christian message, it is a "gateway" deeper into the religion, in which false doctrine is taught.

Every Mormon is living a double religious life. They are Christians and they are Occultists. Joseph Smith began to merge the two immediately after the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1829. In 1831, he first bestowed the High Priesthood on other men. Did you know that when he did this, demonic possession occurred? Look into it. Early June 1831 at a conference meeting attended by Mormon men, Lyman Wight was the first recipient of the High Priesthood,and immediately after the ordinance, an evil spirit leaped into Wight and then eventually into others. The spirit continued to jump from man to man all the day long. (Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling)

Anonymous said...

"Satan would never deceive by making you feel good."

Dang... I guess Paul got it wrong with his letter to the Galatians:

Galatians 5:22-23

Steve

everythingbeforeus said...

Steve, I was being sarcastic when I said that Satan would never deceive by making us feel good. I was responding to Anon 2:09 who said that the Book of Mormon is obviously true because it brings us to Christ. My point was that if Satan is really deceptive, he will bring us to false Christs which are deceptive because we don't realize they are false because they look so real.

Galatians is a great book. Isn't it?!

flying fig said...

Jeff, If you're truly sincere in how he did it I think one a critical area to examine is the character of Smith and the his "witnesses"

You said: "We don't know how he did it except from what witnesses say. All agree that there was no text he was consulting."..."Didn't even use a Bible when dictating quotations therefrom"

This is not true as it is very well understood Smith copied from the KJV Bible because of the KJV translation errors and added italicized words found in the BoM. You yourself admit it happened and have no explanation;
"I don't have a good explanation for the presence of what appear to be KJV errors. Would be great if errors did not enter in the process"(In the BOM)
http://mormanity.blogspot.com/2014/06/no-strangite-witnesses-are-not-strong.html?m=1

So from this example we know the witnesses either lied or were deceived by Smith which makes Smith a deceiver and opens the possibility to any sort of fraud in the writing of the BoM

Jeff Lindsay said...

Flying Fig, thanks for the input and the reminder of my previous comments. Yes, there is evidence that the actual KJV text was used, not just KJV-sounding language, with several instances of things that appear to be less than ideal being imported into the Book of Mormon text. As you said, I don't have a good explanation for how that happened and why, but that doesn't mean that the only explanation is that the witnesses were all lying on this point or just failing to mention that detail (I think most don't expressly mention the absence of a Bible). In fact, just about every quoted passage of any significant length has multiple subtle changes. The use of the KJV text is not simply slavish copying and in some cases the changes are noteworthy and interesting.

My observation is that the KJV text seems to be followed generally "when it is good enough," without being changed into the ideal pristine Ur-text that we would like to see. Why it's not more obviously miraculous at a level to easily impress peer review committees, it's more nuanced that just direct copying and shows something more complex going on.

A critical issue here is that detailed analysis of the original manuscript shows that the text was actually dictated word for word. There was an oral process throughout. We see errors made and often corrected based on mishearing a work, for example. If text is just being lifted and copied directly from the Bible, why not just tell the scribe to write down the chapter or whatever directly? Why go through the hassle of slowly dictating one word at a time and having a scribe write that down when you could save time and trouble by just inserting the text directly? What we seem to have is an oral process that, as far as I understand, was the same regardless of whether the passage in question was from Nephi or the Bible. How and why I don't know. I think that by digging into the original text in detail we are learning and will learn more about what happened. Turning the what into a how and a why will be the challenge and the debate. For now, I think it's premature to say any of the witnesses were lying, wrong, or not very observant based on KJV text in the Book of Mormon.

flying fig said...

Jeff, Thank you for your admitted response
You've made it clear that the witnesses "All agree that there was no text he was consulting."

fairmormon.org also says "The witnesses of the translation are unanimous that Joseph did not have a book or papers, and could not have concealed them if he did have." and "There is no evidence that Joseph owned a Bible during the Book of Mormon translation"

At the same time you're candid in saying "there is evidence that the actual KJV text was used, not just KJV-sounding language, with several instances of things that appear to be less than ideal(KJV errors) being imported into the Book of Mormon text. I don't have a good explanation for how that happened and why"

There are clearly only two explanations possible;
1. During the translation process God included the KJV ERRORS into His Holy Word which Smith received.
2. Smith copied from a KJV and the witnesses were either deceived by Smith or they themselves knew and lied about it's using

Let's just consider our options: Would God purposely reveal 1769 KJV errors to Joseph's translation of the BoM? Or is it possible that Smith(who made a living hiring himself out to find buried treasure with a mystic rock)copied from the KJV Bible and later lied about it?

Anonymous said...

I'm the 2.09 Anon. Everythingbeforeus doesn't have problem with the Book of Mormon, he has a problem it appears with Christianity in general and the idea that God requires something of Mankind. In other words, it's the old "works are evil!" stuff that certain sects of Protestants have been peddling for centuries. I personally think that such a doctrine--that all it takes is saying a few words and you are saved -- is far more pernicious and evil than anything Joseph Smith is alleged to have done.

As for the occult; everythingbeforeus sounds like the early Scribes and Pharisees who also accused Jesus of occultism and casting out devils by the power of the Devil.

So if I'm in the same company as Jesus, that's pretty good company.

To Flying Fig: you are arguing that we who defend the BofM must explain the KJV language. As Jeff said, it's not just a straight copy from the KJV of the Bible; it's different. But what about the errors, you cry?

The problem with your explanation (That Joseph copied the KJV from the Bible as part of a fraud) is that while you think you have us on the defense with the KJV, you yourself and your allies have no realistic explanation for such things as Chiasmus, the Arabian Peninsula evidence that supports 1st Nephi; the cement evidence from Mexico; and on and on.

Fact is, all sides in this debate have things that are giant gaping holes. The KJV is a perceived weakness of the believers (though Welch's analysis of Third Nephi and the Sermon at the Temple rather shows that far from a weakness, the BofM version of the Sermon on the Mount is far superior to anything the Bible has); yet the side of "Joseph was a Fraud" have enormous problems solving issues like the verified presence of Hebraic language that the KJV doesn't have; sophisticated poetical structures; and so forth.

I can't prove the Book of Mormon is true... but you can't prove it false either. Either position takes faith: one the one hand, faith that the problems with the KJV will be resolved; that there will be evidence of animals found, etc. One the other hand, you disbelievers have to have faith that someday something will show up showing that Joseph was either knowledgable far beyond anyone else in the world at Hebrew and ancient American patterns; or that he had access to such knowledge; or that someone else did it and Joseph copied it.

You who say it's all a fraud have just as much, if not more, explaining to do to explain away what Joseph got right than we who say its true have to explain away. It's not just the Book of Mormon, either: it's the Pearl of Great Price and all the bulls eyes and things that no one in the world knew when Joseph was alive but he got right, as confirmed by subsequent discoveries.

Consider one of the early attacks on the Book of Mormon: it was a fraud because it mentioned cement being used (in the late chapters of Alma). Everyone knew that was clearly wrong; a huge mistake on the part of Joseph Smith that showed it was a fraud! That is, until they discovered the great cities of Mexico built out of cement. Funny how cement as an evidence against the Book of Mormon has vanished. Now, though, it presents a problem: If everyone knew that Cement was not used by the Indians, how did Joseph Smith get it right? Lucky Guess?

Cement in the Book of Mormon is not a problem for the believer; rather it is a problem for the "it's all a fraud!" group. And there's lots, lots more things that Joseph has been proven right about. How?

The point: when it comes to the Book of Mormon; everyone takes it on faith; and everyone has weaknesses that must be explained away, or cannot be explained away at the present time. And history has steadily piled up more "hits" on the side of Joseph Smith, and more and more things to explain away for the "It's all a fraud!" side.

Anonymous said...

"while you think you have us on the defense with the KJV, you yourself and your allies have no realistic explanation for such things as Chiasmus, the Arabian Peninsula evidence that supports 1st Nephi; the cement evidence from Mexico; and on and on"

Not only are you deflecting the issue, KJV errors in the BoM prove deception and thus calls into question the very character of Smith, the witnesses and everything that follows including Chiasmus.

Suddenly it's not so hard to imagine other sources Smith or his associates might have lifted from

Suddenly it makes more sense why the Egyptian funerary papyri has nothing to do with the Book of Abraham, why the Garden of Eden is not in Missouri, why there are two Hill Cumorahs, why there is zero BoM archeological/DNA support from mainstream science and on and on.

Anonymous said...

KJV errors are inconclusive bits. They prove nothing. Not all of the proposed errors are clearly errors.

As Jeff wrote, "My observation is that the KJV text seems to be followed generally "when it is good enough," without being changed into the ideal pristine Ur-text that we would like to see. Why it's not more obviously miraculous at a level to easily impress peer review committees, it's more nuanced that just direct copying and shows something more complex going on."

There are at least three verses with changes Smith would have been unlikely to make. And there is zero outside evidence for Bible copying. Alo, there are more than 800 differences between biblical verses and BofM biblical verses.

flying fig said...

Actually there are multiple translation errors and italicized words from KJV that are also in the BoM.

Jeff can at least admit it "Yes, there is evidence that the actual KJV text was used, not just KJV-sounding language, with several instances of things that appear to be less than ideal being imported into the Book of Mormon text. I don't have a good explanation for how that happened and why" "I don't have a good explanation for the presence of what appear to be KJV errors. Would be great if errors did not enter in the process"


FairMormon also understands and accepts that there are only two explanations, they just refuse to take a position: "FairMormon does not take a position that God revealed 1769 KJV errors to Joseph, nor does FairMormon "concede" that Joseph copied KJV text over to the Book of Mormon. What FairMormon does do is acknowledge that there is scholarship that supports either position.

Latter-day Saint scholar, Daniel H. Ludlow also accepts this fact:

Ensign(Sept. 1977): "If his translation was essentially the same as that of the King James version, he apparently quoted the verse from the Bible"

Summarizing the view taken by Latter-day Saint scholars on this point, Daniel H. Ludlow concludes: “There appears to be only one answer to explain the word-for-word similarities between the verses of Isaiah in the Bible and the same verses in the Book of Mormon.” That is simply that Joseph Smith must have opened Isaiah and tested each mentioned verse by the Spirit: “If his translation was essentially the same as that of the King James version, he apparently quoted the verse from the Bible.”

The witnesses go on to testify Smith had no papers or text. This calls into question the entire translation process

everythingbeforeus said...

Anon 1:52

Jesus was accused of occultism, but it was an accusation. Joseph Smith was known to engage in occultic practices. This is not a matter of opinion. The church admits it. No doubt about it.

I do not claim to believe that "works are evil." You do not understand the doctrine. You do not understand my position on this matter. I don't think you have tried to understand it.

It is not a matter of saying a few words. Not at all. It is a matter of saying a few words and ...actually meaning it! There's the catch. You can say anything you want. But whether or not you mean it, well...only you and God knows.

God requires something of mankind? Well, I hope you can deliver.



Anonymous said...

Ludlow was wrong. Smith read words shown him. Since you're into KJV details, ff, then you must know about the Septuagint/Coverdale line, and verses where the 1611 version was followed, not the 1769 update, and various substantial alterations to the text, and about how many changes there were total to biblical passages. KJV errors arguments ultimately carry little weight since they can be countered by at least the above.

flying fig said...

Interesting that neither Jeff or fairmormon counter with that. They both seem to accept the KJV errors in the BoM and have no explanation other God revealed the errors to Smith or Smith simply copied the KJV.